Original call for an international day of action of McDonalds employees, by the UK McDonalds Workers Resistance group.
Since the mid-80s, October 16th (UN world food day) has been World Anti-McDonalds Day. In October 2001, there were hundreds of pickets and protests all over the world. On October 16th 2002, McDonalds workers will be taking action around the globe and we are appealing for help from all those opposed to McExploitation of people and planet to help make…
OCTOBER 16th 2002…
The biggest ever…
GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST MCDONALDS!
McDonalds Workers Resistance (MWR) will be taking action around the following demand:
"That all those employed by McDonalds, anywhere in the world, be allowed to organise themselves as they wish and that they be allowed to conduct the business of their chosen organisations on company premises, be allowed to display notices in staff areas and generally circulate information without hindrance. That this right to organisation and free expression is not dependent on the number of people involved in the organisation and that no person shall be prejudiced against for involvement in such an organisation. This demand applies to those employed directly and indirectly by McDonalds and so includes, for example, those employed to make happy meal toys or company packaging. Our lives may be very different but our struggle is the same. Finally, we ask McDonalds to make explicit that they do not own their employees and that they have no right to dictate what we can and cannot believe or express at any time".
WHY A GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION?
In supporting one big day of action we do not make the mistake of believing that one off eruptions can replace daily struggle. Thousands take actions against McDonalds every day we work, every incidence of theft or sabotage, every refusal of discipline is action against McDonalds. The global day of action is not in place of daily struggle, it is to inspire it, to develop it...
Our actions will be about more than just our working conditions - we will be acting against environmental destruction, we will be acting in solidarity with those displaced from their land - our action is against a whole catalogue of abuses committed in the name of profit. Traditionally, there has been a separate day of action (October 12th) in solidarity with McDonalds workers. We support one day of action for all those in struggle against McDonalds, whether they are directly exploited by the company or not, for we believe that only when those who produce the worlds wealth directly control that production will we see an end to the profit principle and all which it entails. We do not accept that our demand for freedom to organise is disassociated from campaigns against exploitative advertising, from the angry local communities opposing the building of new McDonalds, or from the movements of the landless displaced by cattle ranching. Workers organisation is not a single issue.
In calling for actions against McDonalds, we do not make the mistake of equating oppression and exploitation with only fast food restaurants or multinational corporations. People say to us- 'if you don't like it then quit', but we know too well that there are many jobs as bad or even worse than McDonalds. So we seek to develop contacts with other workers in other industries. For example, workers organising in call centres have distributed our literature at local McDonalds and we have distributed theirs at local call centres. It's not just McDonalds or Mcjobs, it's the very idea of wage labour. And how many McDonalds workers have been forced into the job by government unemployment agencies? How expendable are we when the government can send reinforcements from an army of forced labour should we become too rebellious? We recognise that our struggle is inextricably linked with that of benefits claimants. However, there are a number of reasons why McDonalds is the perfect target for a global day of action:
* McDonalds is global, invading towns around the world and through its effect on the environment affecting everyone and everything on the planet.
* McDonalds is local- the focus of these actions will not be distant meetings but very visible sites of exploitation in the centre of our communities.
* McDonalds is possibly hated by more people for more reasons than any other company on earth.
* Because of the Mclibel trial and the McSpotlight web site there is an unusual amount of McDonalds related information in the public domain.
* McDonalds is symbolic, it is a symbol of triumphalist capitalism, arrogant and contemptuous of Those who oppose it.
"DECONSTRUCTING THE GOLDEN ARCHES IS FLAG BURNING FOR THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY"
If workers can take on McDonalds it will be an inspiration not just to all McDonalds workers but to low paid employees the world over. If a global movement can stop the Mcmega-machine, even for just one day, then it will inspire all those who desire social and ecological justice.
TAKEN FROM 'BLACK FLAG' MAGAZINE, 1987…
"The problem for McDonalds workers is that they don't know which way to turn. (…) McDonalds will have to face external pressure, on an international basis if it is going to be made to capitulate. (…) And if the official trade unions have not got the will to do the job then a more militant organisation will have to take the initiative instead. In the meantime it should be noted that Friday October 16 has been designated a world wide Day of Action Against McDonalds, sponsored with the help of London Greenpeace. If McDonalds and their ilk are to be really made to suffer then a mere one day of smashing windows and gluing up locks wont suffice. Instead what is needed is a concerted and sustained campaign to mobilise the McDonalds workforce. (…) McDonalds is, of course, only one of the more visible opponents of unionisation and practitioners of workplace exploitation. But there has to be a start somewhere. And if a campaign to organise the unorganised can be begun and won in one small quarter then others will follow too."
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GLASGOW MWR…
In the beggining there were 40- Glasgow MWR originated some years ago when about forty workers, provoked by unpaid bonuses, made an unsuccessful attempt at starting a union at one store in Glasgow.
Then there were 15- After a period of dormancy, we regrouped with new tactics and about two years ago we adopted the name MWR. Unlike the failed union drive, MWR was always an 'underground' group, a very loose collection of the most pissed (off) and disobedient employees from a few Glasgow stores. We practised sabotage and insisted on replacing McDonalds hierarchies with direct democracy. As time progressed we began to realise the futility of trying to take McDonalds on in one store or one town. Simultaneously, our numbers dropped and our increasing secrecy made it difficult for new people to become involved.
Then there were 8- We decided to try to provoke and link resistance by Mcworkers around the UK and the world. We made contact with a few others in England and agreed (somewhat unclearly) that MWR should become a network. By now we were becoming more generally opposed to capitalism and we developed contact with local revolutionaries who helped us distribute our news sheet 'McSues'. We also made contact with the McSpotlight crowd and on October 12th 2000, we finally 'went public'. The first issue of McSues was distributed from Alaska, USA to Christchurch, New Zealand. We are indebted to all our friends who have helped get the rag to Mcworkers. Over the last year we have developed a substantial network and have been frustrated by our inability to support each other better. How do we escape the feeling of isolation and overcome our geographical separation?
Then there were 5- We think the answer is the global day of action, a chance for Mcworkers and its other opponents to realise our collective strength. There are only five of us in the Glasgow group now but there are thousands of us around the world. We would like to think that what the Glasgow group lacks in numbers, we make up in experience and commitment- we have now been working together in practical opposition to the company for years, and want to see the complete abolition of the wages system. But while we never hide our politics, we do not aim to convert other Mcworkers to our views. Rather, we will continue to produce accessible ideas, encouraging other workers to take action against the company in what ever way they see fit. We believe that the experience of class struggle will affect others as it has affected us, and will lead them to similar conclusions.
RECENT MCDONALDS WORKERS STRUGGLES
Over the last year, McDonalds workers have been rebelling around the globe. There have been various events in Italy, including a successful strike in Florence. The workers of McDonalds Wiesbaden in Germany were forced to go to court after they got sacked for being in a union. Eighty percent of the restaurants workers were members of the union so McDonalds shut the store. That story will be all to familiar to McDonalds employees in Canada where many attempts at unionisation have been defeated by some pretty twisted campaigns. At the Peel Street store in Montreal the solidarity was exceptional and after a long and bitter legal battle the courts officially recognised the union. The victory was only a moral one- McDonalds had already shut down the restaurant. There have followed a number of arson attacks against McDonalds restaurants in Canada which may be related. In Paris, workers occupied their store and went on strike. When the company sacked several workers a protest was called. Striking McDonalds workers were joined by Pizza Hut employees and anti-capitalist activists. The angry crowd hurled stink bombs at McDonalds restaurants. In Russia there are few independent trade unions but one has been established in Moscow McDonalds. In the UK there are several active groups of McDonalds workers including the excellent Workers Resistance Against McDonalds (WRAM). Like MWR, WRAM is developing an international network. They have a highly recommended web site at: www.wram.cjb.net Actions in UK McDonalds over the last year have included workers leafleting customers about their working conditions, a partial walk out, and at one store a 'phone in sick day'. Around the world last year there were scores of attempts at organising McDonalds restaurants and dozens of court cases questioning McDonalds employment practices. While there has definitely been an upturn in activity recently, similar struggles have been occurring for years, in France, Spain, Canada, the USA, Ireland, Mexico- where there is McDonalds there is McDonalds workers resistance.
Every McDonalds is given a Polaroid camera and managers are instructed to take pictures of protesters. So, depending on the action you are planning, you may want to wear some sort of mask and take other precautions. There are all sorts of actions you can take against McDonalds, some are difficult and need lots of preparation, others can be done easily by one person. Use your imagination! Please remember that neither McDonalds workers nor their customers are to blame for McDonalds catalogue of crimes. Most McDonalds workers hate the place but just need a job, contrary to letters we receive, not everyone can work on an organic farm. Similarly, there are few people in the richer countries who have never eaten at McDonalds. McDonalds specifically target children as young as two with their advertising, while for others it is just a reasonably cheap and convenient place to eat, especially where local alternatives have been taken over. We think the solution to social and ecological problems is through mass popular action, the role of all of us who become especially involved in social struggle, whether it be promoting workplace unrest or rioting at leaders summits, is to inspire, encourage and participate in this mass action, not to compensate for its absence through living a pure lifestyle or kidding ourselves that our actions represent others. We therefor do not support actions that intend to injure or intimidate workers or customers.
CONTACT: [email protected]
MWR PO Box 3828 Glasgow G41 1YU UK
We would be indebted to anyone who could translate some or all of this message into another language.