UNITED KINGDOM

UK


1995

On Thursday 23rd Febraury in Manchester, as part of the local university's "One World Week", 40 protesters from the anti-MuckDonalds alliance held a peaceful vegetarian eat-in at the central Market St McDonalds. After negotiating with the police, the activists left after an hour, having given out vegetarian food and leaflets to customers inside the store. Throughout the protest 4 police riot vans and 2 mounted police officers were stationed outside but no arrests were made. The action was covered by local papers, the Manchester Evening News and The Big Issue.

On 15th April, there were international protests to mark the 40th anniversary on the opening of the world's first store of the McDonald's corporation, and to celebrate 10 years of co-ordinated international resistance to McDonald's. More than 120,000 leaflets were handed out across the UK, and some people returned bags of McDonald's litter to the company as part of the Operation 'Send-It-Back' campaign. At many stores, McDonald's workers were handed workers support group leaflets expressing opposition to low pay and exploitation, and offering solidarity and encouragement to organise for their rights. Actions took place outside more than 100 stores in Glasgow, Derby, Cardiff, Brighton, Carlisle, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Taunton, Grimsby, Manchester, Hereford, Cambridge, Guernsey, Bristol, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Birmingham, Nottingham, Huddersfield, Swansea, Kettering, Dundee, Hull, London and many other towns. There were articles in the Guardian, the Observer, New Statesman (national newspapers and magazine), as well as TV coverage in London and reports in many local papers and on local radio/TV.

Protesters surprised the makers of the burger giant's latest advert when they arrived at their location shoot in Ruskin Park, South London on 5th June. Ronald McDonald's cheesy grin faded when the protesters appeared behind him with a banner reading "McDonald's - guilty of exploiting workers, destroying the environment, murdering animals". The production company's plans of filming the clown by the pond and the bandstand (painted specially for the purpose) were completely frustrated all day, at an estimated cost of Pounds Sterling 100,000. The production company then abandoned its plans to film in the park the following day.


"lights, camera, action"

"that's not in the script"

"I'm going home"

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  • During 1995, McDonald's international expansion was halted 3 times when councils voted against the building of new stores:-

    Coucillors in Lochabar were infuriated when Green Party members opposing the planned opening of a McDonald's in Fort William, protested at the Tidy Britian Group Bin It For Britian roadshow which was sponsored by McDonald's. Councillor Euan Harper said "No matter waht McDonald's past record may be their committment to the environment has been demonstrated here today." The activists were unrepentent, one saying "McDonald's are parasites riding on the back of a good cause." The event was reported in the Fort william Star and other local papers at the end of July.

    Ronald McDonald's show was disrupted in Peckham, South London when he was pied in the face by a pantomine cow. The Peta protesters, waving a banner reading "Happy Meals Are Sad for Animals", and shouting "Meat Is Murder" were chased down the street by staff and parents. Similar events have also occurred in the USA. The Peckham event was reported by the South London Press in August.

    12th October was a DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH McDONALD'S WORKERS in the UK. Protests and leafletting at over 15 regional locations around the country took place on the third anniversary of the death by electrocution of Mark Hopkins who worked at McDonald's Arndale store in Manchester. At the McLibel trial the disclosure of a previously confidential internal report about the accident has led to Mark's parents demanding a new inquest.

    HALF OF McDONALD'S UK STORES LEAFLETTED

    October 16th was the 11th annual Worldwide Day of Action Against McDonald's (also UN 'World Food Day'). Many people around the world handed out the "What's Wrong With McDonald's" or similar leaflets, or protested against McDonald's in some other way on or around that day. There was leafletting and protests outside of approx. half of the 600 McDonald's UK stores. In addition to leafletting the public with "What's Wrong With McDonald's"leaflets, at many stores McDonald's workers were handed Worker's support group leaflets expressing opposition to low pay and exploitation, and offering solidarity and encouragement to organise for their rights. Over 1O million "What's Wrong With McDonald's" leaflets have so far been handed out on the streets in the UK since the writs were served on the Mclibel Two. McDonald's attempt to suppress freedom of speech has completely backfired.

    On 8th & 9th November, top executives from some of the world's largest multinationals gathered at a hotel for the Management Summit '95 in London. A number of anti-corporation boycott groups voiced their opposition outside the conference. Paul Preston (McDonald's UK president) spoke on "Successfully Managing the Globalisation of Your Organisation and Determining the Optimum Structure of the Borderless Corporation - Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" . The McLibel Support Campaign and Baby Milk Action handed out "People not Profits" leaflets, criticising the McDonald's for environmental damage, promotion of an unhealthy diet, and exploitation of workers and animals and explaining how Nestle's efforts to establish its baby food market in Asia have undermined breast feeding and infant health. The event was reported in the guardian newspaper.

    Against the overwhelming wishes of the local community, a McDonald's store was opened at Kings Cross on Wednesday 6th December. Local residents (including members of the Kings Cross Neighbourhood Association) along with supporters of London Greenpeace and the 'McLibel' Defendants voiced their lively opposition during the official "Champagne Reception". They are opposing the 26th burger bar in the area and the effects of McDonald's operations. London Greenpeace's office is a mere 200 metres from the new store.


    1994

    In April, Plymouth McDonald's lost half a day of business after the Justice Department claimed that it has planted incendary devices in the neighbouring Boot's store aerosol section. This double action was found to be from a successful hoax call.

    Also in April, an Oxford Mcdonald's store was occupied by Earth First!ers for one and a half hours, with the original London Greenpeace leaflets being handed out.

    On 1 October 1994 McDonald's executives held a celebration along with a jazz band and clown at their Woolwich store to mark 20 years since this first store opened in the UK. Twenty five London Greenpeaceand McLibel supporters gathered with a banner reading "20 Years of McGarbage" and handed out 4000 "What's Wrong With McDonald's" leaflets to passers-by.

    Later in the month an arson attack damaged Winchester McDonald's.

    On 8 October, at the third national day of action in 1994, scores of McDonald's stores all around the country were leafleted including at least 35 in the London area alone plus Swindon, Bristol, Bath, Chippenham, Nottingam, Manchester and Edinburgh. The month of protest continued with an action at the UK McDonald's headquarters where sackfuls of the company's litter picked up off the streets were returned to McDonald's. A week later 500 people attended the National March Against McDonald's through central London to protest against the company's exploitation of people, animals and the environment.

    In November 1994 at a Manchester Drive-In a pantomime cow and clowns were removed forcibly and violently by police during a demonstration organized by Manchester Earth First! On 17 December 1994 protesters outside Kingston McDonald's were threatened with having their legs broken by a McDonald's manager - protests continue. In some other towns such as Newcastle and Hastings pickets are held fortnightly. Local residents from Wandsworth in London protested at further cuts in the borough's public spending budget. Anti McDonald's protesters highlighted the 15,000 which the council has given McDonald's to build an in-store creche when it continues to cut back on public spending.


    1987

    Staff at Colchester formed the MFF (McDonalds Freedom Fighters) who fought successfully for the reopening of an off duty crew room. Ex-worker Simon Gibney later gave evidence at the McLibel trial that products were watered down, long haired staff were discriminated against and that the store had been flooded by raw sewage. Following Simon's testimony at the trial, national newspaper Today ran a front page story. The news was also covered by the Independent, Mirror and Press association


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