Some critiques of McDonalds Workers Resistance

Radical McDonald's employee group MWR response to criticisms from different perspectives, including a manager and an eco-fundamentalist.

The manager strikes back

The Manager Writes...

"Hi, although I think you’re all wrong, I enjoyed your site lots. For sure I know what you mean about external managers they don’t have any idea and it’s terrible. See, I also know what you mean about how the job can be hard work, shit, yes you are all right there. It is a shit job. I know this because I worked up to my position through the ranks, I was a crew member for many years and I got my promotion the hard way, I worked my way through the ranks. I am a first assistant, I have been with the company for nine years, I know more about McDonalds, including the bad bits, than any of you. It is as I said, I liked your site, it made me laugh. But i want to explain to you why you are all wrong, why you have an argument that is actually crap.

See, all of you crew members y ou all think that you are the ones that are doing all of the work. That is so not true. Most of you are retards, sorry but it is true, our lives are made a misery by you retards that can not turn up to work on time, can not follow simple instructions. Some of you come into the job and you have never done anything, you do not know how to sweep a floor. You have never done a days work. It is us managers who have to compensate for your inadequacies. See, I was a crew member and i was agood one. So now when i hear a retard crew member moaning about how they do all the work i know this is crap because if tey could do the work they would soon get promoted. You say you have worked for McDonalds for years and you are still crew members. I am sorry but that makes me think that you are also retards.

You know there are lots of jobs outthere. You work for McDonalds because it is as good as the next job you could get. There is no point moaning that it is unfair because you know that McDonalds is not a charity and because you alos know that the opportunitues are there. How could McDonadls mak opportunities more? Answer me that. What should be done, you wnat everyone to earn more money well that is just childish. Think about it. You know McDonalds aims to be the worlds number one quick service family restaurant. To do this we need to pull our weight. You get paid what you are worth in the market. If McDonalds paid you more it would not be so competitive. It would go bust, you must be able to see that. Then what ? A lot of crewmembers have the decency to be thankful for their jobs they do not have the skills to be employed by other. They get what they are worth.

See, maybe I get paid more than you but that is because I am worth more, sorry but I am. And sure, yesi would like to earn more money but what am i to do because i understand how competititive the industry is and how important it is that we control labour costs. And sure, this is my job to try and get some work out of you kids but if i do not do that then i am not worth anything and i am another retard moaning about how unfair it is. And do not dare say that I am a ‘lazy git’, i work so hard that last year i had a breakdown from the stress of my job. I work harde than any of you that is why i am worth more.

It is like i said, you are funny but you do not understand teh hard realities of the busineness world and you should not work for McDonalds. You should try something else because you obviously do not want to make a success of you McDonalds career the opportunities are there if you wanted to. You do not want to work in the first place so you are just more retards. You should stop all this nonsense about ‘fuck shit up’ and stealing because that is just making things more difficult for people like me and i have a very difficult job and i agree that sometimes things ar eunfair but that is not my fault that is just the way things are and you are never going to change that. so yes, stop f@*$ing about and make something of your lives."

MWR Replies:

Come on mate, open your fucking eyes. The “opportunities are there”, what opportunities? Opportunities to get on like you’ve done, to work so hard for an “unfair” system that you get stressed and have a “breakdown”? We’re worth more than that and so are you. Has it ever occurred to you that many crew members aren’t “retards” but rather see how the company exists to make money out of us, see how the system is “unfair” and do not want to co-operate in our own exploitation? You work your ass off to make other people rich, that’s not very clever. We’re certainly not suggesting that you’re a “lazy git” or that you get rich off our backs, that’s the big corporate dudes. You’re just a skivvy, a totally expendable slave you do fairly mindless robotic work and earn a fraction of the wealth that you produce. You are just like us and we encourage you to stop working so hard for them. Of course it’s difficult because if you stop giving shit to crew members you’re going to end up getting shit from your boss. So we recognise that it’s not your fault, but you must also recognise that we’re in different class positions and sometimes managers and crew will clash because it’s your job to ensure the McDonalds system keep functioning and it’s in our classes interest to rebel against the system. But crew and managers, we all suffer the daily humiliation of enslavement to the burger bosses pursuit of profit, we are all exploited. It would be nice if more of you guys realised this. McDonalds makes billions of dollars profit every year, we’ll need to do more to destroy their business than just get paid a bit more. But we don’t just want to bankrupt McDonalds, we want to abolish the whole system of employment. Like you say, bankrupting McDonalds would just mean another shit job with whoever took up their share of the market and we don’t want to spend our lives doing pointless things just because they make someone money, we don’t want to perpetuate the “unfair” system, we don’t want breakdowns because we are stressed and overworked. This requires all workers in all industries to start organising, our whole class has to stop taking shit. We’re going to stop fucking about and make something of our lives.

A serious person writes

Your Campaign: A Serious Critique

I have observed passively with considerable interest as your campaign has developed. I gladly admit that I have been both surprised and considerably impressed by your determination and staying power. I have also derived much pleasure from your humorous approach and your ability to score points at the expense of your more senior colleagues.

Let me openly state that I wholely share your concerns regarding the predicament in which the world currently finds itself and that for not one second do I doubt your very earnest commitment to the social and ecological good. It is on these friendly terms that I intervene in an attempt to direct your activity in a direction which, in my opinion (and it is only my opinion), would be incalculably more constructive.

When your campaign originated it was characterised by considerable naiveté and a too familiar lugubrious nostalgia for a romantic notion of an early 20th century politics. Let me be clear now, I don not support attempts by westerners to increase their material wealth. Such struggles serve not the planet, or the majority of its inhabitants, nor even those lustful westerners.

Firstly, such struggles reproduce and reinforce an essential tenet of the post-industrial capitalist order- that happiness is produced by material wealth. This is an illusion, a grand indoctrination projected upon you by the spectacular order. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the richer nations, live in a post-scarcity economy. The value of things beyond the satisfaction of our immediate needs, is a consequence of the economic imperative, defined on the terms of capital.

In post-industrial capitalism it becomes in the interest of the capitalist order (even if not, of course, the individual capitalist) that workers wages should increase. This simple statement is frequently denounced by those whose political philosophy belongs to a bygone age. Higher wages means more money in circulation, more money means ever more consumption, more consumption is essential in staving economic stagnation. If western workers are now primarily consumers, this cannot be extended uncritically to third world workers. Third world workers are the producers, it is not in the interests if the order we discuss that there wages should increase. So the pursuit of higher wages in the west has a plethora a of ramifications- it increases geographical inequalities of wealth, it increases consumption and therefor the amount of work being done around the world (but mainly in the third world), and, inevitably, the environmental impact of this is severe and certainly the suffering is disproportionately concentrated in the third world. In the globalised economy the labour movement is just another way the post-industrialised western society asserts its superiority over other areas, where western supported violence is deployed to ensure similar unionisation is impossible.

Now, let me be clear, like you I am a revolutionary, I support the destruction of western society and the transformation to a world of true ecological sustainability. But your strategy is bankrupt.

When once work was performed to meet human needs, today it is performed to meet the need of capital. All organisations in the workplace today can only perpetuate that order. Largely this is recognised with the decline of syndicalism (Spanish CNT once boasted over one million members) and trade unionism. Still, in post-industrial capitalism ALL workplace organising replicates the logic of capitalism. Workers councils, anarchist-syndicalist unions, MacDonalds Workers Resistance, all this is the opposite of revolutionary activity for it can only perpetuate the world of capitalist labour. Organise around specific issues, organise around a locality- don’t organise around that which is the very basis of oppression, exploitation and environmental destruction. Do not organise around work!

The urgent problems facing the world are environmental destruction, the poverty of the third world and the destruction of the human spirit everywhere- not your pursuit of material wealth. I would warmly appreciate your ideas on these comments since I have taken the time to write them.

MWR reply:

Maybe what people want and need is ‘defined on the terms of capital’, but that doesn’t make the wants and needs any less real. Like if (to choose a cliched example) someone’s kid wants to go to school in fashionable trainers, then going on about how the kids want is ‘defined on the terms of capital’ isn’t going to help the situation much where as an extra £30 might. So these things are important and inequalities in ‘post-industrial’ societies continue to fuck people up, you can see that in life expectancies, suicide rates, health records, etc. We don’t live in a classless society.

Our campaign isn’t just about western workers, we support the organisation of all workers and have always been explicit about demanding rights of organisation for everyone employed by McDonalds whether directly or indirectly including those employed in the ‘third world’ making packaging, happy meal toys, etc. “Our lives may be very different but our struggle is the same”. But we are not in the business of charity, solidarity, yes, but not charity.

As an aboriginal woman once said, “if you come only to help me, you can go back home. But if you consider our struggle as part of your struggle for survival, then maybe we can work together.”

And it’s just not true to say that unionisation is impossible in the “third world”. To give just one example, the Bangladeshi Garment Workers Union kicks fuck out of any British or American trade union.

It’s often said that the established bureaucratic trade unions can’t break with capitalist modes of production because they require them to exist. Maybe that’s true, but MWR’s idea is much more fluid and less institutionalised. You seem to assume that when workers take control of the means of production they wont want to change anything. That’s a crazy idea. There’s no reason why work place organising should “perpetuate the logic of capitalist labour” any more than community organisations should maintain council tax collection or crap housing.

Blood, hellfire, damnation...

The following was posted on indymedia UK by A//E, March 2002. This is one example of a general trend of communications we receive. However, most of these folk just waste their own time with their ranting, he decided everyone should read his words of wisdom...

"We all have a choice ...

Were you all conscripted and forced by rifle butts to work for mcdonalds ? Had you no choice only the choice of suffering in poverty which would eventually lead to your deaths if you did'nt work for mcdonalds ?

You see the animals suffering and dieing at the hands of mcdonalds abattoirs,hundreds of thousands of bloody,pulped bodies by the day?... no,you're too busy fighting for more money and alleviation of boredom.

You see the rape of the rainforests and hundreds of thousands of acres of land across the earth levelled to provide space for cattle to graze later to be served by you disguised as'burgers' ?

You see the establishment of mcdonalds outlets sprawl across the world like a plague making vast profits to kill more animals and tear down more trees and move on and evict more indigenous peoples from the land mcdonalds are exploiting ?

You don't care,your a fucking joke,if you did care you would'nt have taken that interview to work for such a shitty,slimy,death mongering company.

I put it to you with your pseudo socialist'working class' belief that 'mcdonalds workers resistance'is a group of people working for change from within is total,absolute,lies...your site makes you look like you are just a bunch of pissed off,bored numbskulls who don't actually give a shit about any of the above.You come here and whine and make yourselves out to be 'weal webels'?Your site is full of discrepancies about nothing real,just that you'want'more money,your bored,you don't like this and you don't like that...makes it sound like you've been forced into some type of prison camp.

I put it to you that you are taking the piss out of IMC by regularly posting your bullshit in the hope of support and response from activists who will support you in your poor,hard done by plight to earn more money to buy more things for yourselves.

If the bosses of said horror company did pay you enough money your site would be left by you to rot and you'd be serving up arms,legs and stomach innards with 'fries' like there's no tommorow.

No peace until McDonalds is deceased.

http://www.vegsoc.org

http://www.mcspotlight.org"

No peace until McDonalds is deceased... by Webel Mon Mar 25 '02

Hi A//E,

It’s Webel here again. I used to be in MWR but now no longer work for McDonalds. However, I continue to help and support the group in any way I can and still see myself as part of MWR, even if decision making must rest with those still working there. I was one of a couple in the old group who argued hard to move us in the direction of anti-capitalism and to try and develop links with the ‘anti-capitalist’ movement. Seems a bit embarassing right now. These days I’m involved with a range of campaigns, not just MWR.

However, it’s true, MWR did start out because we were pissed off, bored and underpaid. And, in fairness, we probably didn’t understand very much beyond that. There’s no shame in that, did you come out the womb quoting comrade Kaczynski?

Thanks for the link to the vegetarian society with the chocolate recipes and advice on free range eggs. Unfortunately I’m vegan.

Also, it's always good to see a link to McSpotlight, who, of course, set up the support network for McDonalds workers when we were probably still at school.

Your obsession with the group is starting to concern me. You seem to post more stuff about MWR than it does. It’s very amusing that this post, a comment, is having a go at MWR’s use of IMC. As far as I know MWR’s posted maybe 5 messages on imc UK in the 4 years we’ve been organising (admittedly all since October 2001). The main reason they were posted is because we were suffering under the illusion that some people who worked for McDonalds or in other low paid casualised industries might look at this site... aye, OK, still learning. And, sure, to ask for help and solidarity from other workers and activists, help and solidarity we have always been delighted to reciprocate. Anyway, ‘To “MWR”?’ The address is info@mwr.org.uk not imc UK’s news wire.

The numbskull web site is at: http://www.mwr.org.uk You will see, if you look closely, that we want an end to all wage labour, and a transformation to an ecological, communist society, but it’s not a good idea to start ranting on about that to every pissed off employee that wants to start fighting back. People learn and develop through being actively involved in struggles. We have anyway.

I wouldn’t say MWR were anarcho-syndicalists, there’s different oppinions and influences- everything from just how we felt when we started to... situationism.

DiSsident, the ‘bricks, steel poles and petrol bombs’ will be thrown by pissed off workers while you are still sitting at your computer. Do you think the people who have recently been on the streets of Argentina all avoided the economy(not through choice anyway), or somehow found ‘ethical employment’?

The Glasgow branch of MWR has a meeting every week and at the next one I’ll suggest that we put together a few pages explaining the politics and how they relate to ecological issues. It’s tiresome and depressing to keep having to respond to A//E. A//E, as you know, MWR, see their activities as part of a drive for revolutionary social change. A strategy that needn’t be in conflict with your revolutionary manifesto (indicated elsewhere) of encouraging the whole world to sign on. Solidarity to all benefit claimants, and also to people who choose alternative lifestyles, just a pity some of them are such moralistic, self-satisfied pricks. What is it you’re involved with anyway?, or is not working enough? We got no problem with folk blagging the dole, good luck to anyone who chooses to do that, but you got to recognise that for other people, folk not living in your subculture, unemployment (and boredom!) is a fucking serious problem that people fucking kill themselves over. But the ever escalating suicide rate is probably a good thing ‘cos it cuts down a population that was destroying the planet....

It is difficult to take a movement seriously that so gladly tolerates people who are so distanced from reality. It is not easy getting people interested in anti-capitalist ideas because to most people it’s a bizarre and irrelevant freak show. How the planet raping billions could have formed such a view is beyond me...

A//E (does that stand for accident and emergency by the way?), if I get someone to post your intelligent critique on the MWR web site will you stop writing about us?

Thanks,

No peace until McDonalds is deceased, No destroying McDonalds until we crawl out the ghetto,

Webel (in a personal capacity)

p.s. Jolly good thing the pits got shut down, saves those fucking miners from destroying the planet so they can buy stuff they don’t need.
www.mwr.org.uk

To see a fuller version of this debate go to: http://uk.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=25872&group=webcast