Wednesday October 16th 2002 was the 18th annual Worldwide Anti-McDonald's Day [UN World Food Day] - a protest against the promotion of junk food, the unethical targeting of children, exploitation of workers, animal cruelty, damage to the environment and the global domination of corporations over our lives.
This year we had reports of local protests on October 16th (and during that week) all around the globe, from Australia to Mexico, Russia to South Africa, Brazil, USA and throughout Eastern and Western Europe - including Ireland and the UK (where we had direct knowledge of protests outside over 45 stores - but the full figure is certainly much higher). This was mainly leafletting and pickets, but also included marches, distribution of free vegetarian food, in-store dumping of collected company litter, showings of the 'McLibel' documentary, public meetings, painted slogans on adverts and store fronts, and lock glueings. There was substantial media coverage (including filming for 2 major TV documentaries to be broadcast in France and South Korea).
This report is a brief and also incomplete summary. More detailed reports may appear on www.indymedia.org (with branches in dozens of countries).
FOR THE Ist TIME McDONALD'S OWN WORKERS JOINED THE DAY OF ACTION
The growing international network of McDonald's employees - the McDonald's Workers Resistance, established in 2000 - had called for McDonald's workers around the world to take joint action on the same day, October 16th. This was a brave call considering the global corporation's track record in suppressing any independent workers rights, activity or organisation - backed up with threats of sackings. In the week before, Helen Steel and Dave Morris (the McLibel 2) and a representative of MWR attended an international conference in Holland called by the International Union of Foodworkers. Trade Union delegations from about 15 countries from many corners of the world swopped experiences with trying to recruit and support McDonald's workers - the general picture was a great deal of effort but little success against company opposition. Underground resistance networks appear to be one way to fight back.
On the day itself, according to reports received, action included: strikes in stores in Paris and Norfolk; a stoppage in Moscow; attempted strike at a store in New Zealand and London, England; a walkout in Nottingham; collective resignations in Glasgow; many acts of absenteeism, defiance and disruption by individuals and small groups of workers in many countries including the US, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Madrid and Germany. In addition there were solidarity actions by protestors in support of McDonald's workers in the North of Ireland, Germany, Australia, Scotland, Sweden, Serbia and England and especially in Italy (including a blockade in Milan).
MWR had said: ' It will be the first ever co-ordinated, international, worker-led mobilisation by the McDonalds workforce. October 16th was chosen because since the mid-1980s it has been the date of world anti-McDonalds day. So, simultaneous to our actions, people who do not work for McDonalds but are opposed to its labour practices, cruelty to animals and destructive environmental impact, will also be engaged in actions at McDonalds restaurants all over the world. We hope that all actions can be mutually supportive. '
The Glasgow (Scotland) MWR branch is demanding 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. '
If you would like to know more about MWR, including full reports of Oct 16th, please visit mwr.org.uk
Some examples of the many reports we have received:
Here is a small report of Tallinn's anti-McDonald's demonstration on 16th october 2002.
When we first heard about anti-McDonald's day me and my friends thought that we could organize some demonstration in front of Tallinn's most popular McDonald's "restaurant" at the Viru street (Note: Viru street is one of the most visited streets in Tallinn's historical old town). But that was just an idea. Nothing like that had never been done in Tallinn (or elsewhere in Estonia) before.
But things started moving fast just a few days before. I remembered that I had a copy of an anti-McD hand-out, translated to Estonian. So I sent it to my friend who organized about 50 copies of it. Few, but he ran out of paper and ink.
On the next day I rushed from school to McD. (The demonstration was about to begin at 16:00 pm. I was late about 10 minutes). Yes there was about 20 (and more and more showed up) people (mostly the ones I knew) with placards saying "Stop The McD", "No for McD", "Pizdets Capitalisma" (capitalism is fucked up) and black flags etc. The hand-outs were already given to curious passers-by. So we ran a fund raising to copy more hand-outs.
And surprise-surprise! McD called to the security company. They arrived and wanted to know what was happening and why all this bullshit. We told them about the meaning of the day. They were confused and tried to prove to us that we are total morons and should get a proper job :) and ripped a few placards, which we quickly repaired with tape.
Same time our comrades with extra hand-outs (about 100 or more ) arrived and the campaign started with new speed.
At the same moment a few old ladies came to talk with security guards who stood there like a bunch of crash-test dummies. And the old ladies spoke for us! For punks and against the McD.
Then came the cops (Actually security guards called them and told about illegal demonstration in front of McD, because of some hamburger-day :). Cops were kinda agressive and wanted to know who organized the demonstration without the city council's permission (yes, you must have such thing in Estonia to demonstrate or to play music in the street).
Then they ripped some placards from us and tore them up. When we told them that it's a crime against private property they laughed and busted one of us. (I guess it's not necessary to mention that in the meantime we continued of sharing hand-outs and McD was practically empty of consuming-maniacs.) After 15 minutes of arguing they released the busted guy. And we decided to change our tactics by walking in a group(s) and sharing hand-outs that were left.
I don't know how successful we were. It was the first time we did such thing. Also we got some attention from 2 major dailies. Articles were neutral, but comments on the web were a) positive, supportive and understanding or b) what-a-stupid-thing-those-stinking-punks-now- did...
That's all from Estonia
On Wed. Oct. 16th a group of activists organised a protest against McDonald's in our little town lugano in Ticino, Switzerland. It was a little-big success because more than 100 people took part. We occupied the arcade in front of McDonald's. We stayed there for 15 minutes with banners, leaflets, eating carrots, shouting slogans and singing songs... The police didn't arrive and we occupied the street as far as the next fast food: Burger King. At the end the little parade was dispersed in Piazza Dante, a little square. There wasn't violence and the police didn^t intervene even if the demonstration had not been authorized. All the media have spoken well about it.
MEXICO CITY - MEXICO
A group of about 80 people identifying themselves as members of the "Collective Front of Anarchist Vegetarians" were arrested Wednesday after a march through downtown Mexico City, where they protested outside restaurants and spray-painted slogans on a McDonald's outlet.
The 65 men and 15 women handed out anti-meat leaflets and blocked traffic briefly before they were arrested, Mexico City police told government news agency Notimex. None of them resisted arrest, and they were taken to a nearby police station while prosecutors decided whether to press charges against them.
Earlier this year, community activists in Oaxaca City led a series of protests against the planned opening of a McDonald's restaurant in the 450-year-old colonial main square there.
EXTRACTS FROM MWR ROUND UP
In six Paris McDonalds controlled by CNT France they went on strike around specific demands related to full time employment and standardised pay rates. They gathered at 10:00am by the ‘Fountain Of Innocents’, at 3pm they were due to meet with McDonalds representatives and they arranged a public meeting in the evening.
In Norfolk a strike crippled a restaurant, there was a picket that held for most of the day. At one point a manager came out to moan pitifully “why Are you doing this?”, “read the leaflet”, “I’m not reading that” he raged, ripping it up. When McDonalds head office were asked why the store was virtually un-staffed they replied that it was because of “some sad individuals trying to take McDonalds down”.
And then there was the magnificent news from Moscow. As far as we can understand, they negotiated with a “friendly” manager to be allowed to stop work for a short time without the matter being taken further. Although lacking much common language, the feeling of international solidarity as we talked on the phone was amazing.
And the solidarity actions around the world were fantastic. The Industrial Workers of the World leafleted at stores in several Australian s to fellow workers here, and confuse the fuck out of management as they try and work out how the infection spread to Australia!!". The Freie ArbeiterInnen Union leafleted workers in many German McDonalds - they entered staff areas, displayed banners, made speeches. In Belfast the Anarchist Syndicalist Federation found that "most workers thought it was dead funny (…) we planted the seeds of resistance in the two main McDonalds in Belfast...". In Scotland all the stores in central Edinburgh were leafleted and stickered and there was a picket in Aberdeen.
On Oct 16th 3-5pm anti-McDonald's activists were joined by Rogers Park 'Food Not Bombs' group (who serve otherwise wasted vegan food to those who are hungry). There was a TV crew from Korea.
eThekwini ECOPEACE is proud to announce the success of their “Ban G.E. - Boycott USA” protest. This was held on global AntiMcDonalds Day, Wednesday 16 October 2002. This was also UN Food Security Day, celebrated worldwide.
The issues highlighted by dozens of ECOPEACE members were: 1. Ban G.E. (genetic engineering); 2. McDonalds exploit children, their workers and the environment; 3. Be Proudly South African, Boycott USA goods, services and entertainment; 4. World Peace Now Stop War.
People from all walks of life joined in. Protestors dressed up which made for a colourful event. Anti-G.E. and pro-peace street theatre was performed outside the American Consulate in Durban. A letter to President Bush was handed over to Mr. Humphreys, the USA consulate representative.