1994 - THE TRIAL BEGINS

In the year the court case finally began the McLibel Support Campaign heard reports from all around the globe about independent campaigns and actions against McDonald's. The court case attracted over 200 articles in the press, as well as international TV and radio coverage, and Helen and Dave were nominated a Role of Honour by readers of Britain's The Guardian newspaper:-

"for taking on the most litigious and biggest food supplier in the world and defending themselves in what is expected to be the longest libel case in Britain"

Here is a round-up of some of the campaigns and protests against McDonald's in 1994 including the 10th World anti-McDonald's Day.


FRANCE

On 9 July 1994 sixty seven workers at a local McDonald's in Massy, a suburb of North Paris, pulled a surprise strike, closing the store down during its busiest period. They were demanding "respect of their rights to engage in union activity, paid vacations, the right to choose their own delegates and recognition of their personal needs." Less than 24 hours after the strike an agreement was signed between management and the General Confederation of Workers (CGT) union representing the workers. A few days later McDonald's workers in the town of Ulis walked out. In Nantes, west France, McDonald's workers prepared a week of action with CGT trade unionists.

In France employees of companies of over 50 workers have the legal right to elect "delegates" with various rights, such as checking that overtime is paid and employment contracts are followed. But in Lyons 5 McDonald's managers were arrested, accused of violating these rights by threatening that any employee voting for union delegates would be sacked. Only 38 of 458 employees voted in the first election. According to the union CFDT, employees said they had been told that anyone voting for the union would be sacked. Hassen Lamti was a witness for the defense in the London McLibel trial in 1995.

Leafleting also took place around Grenoble with the ultimate aim of getting a trade union set up in the city's McDonald's. Contact: CNT-SSE Grenoble, BP 385, 38015 Grenoble, Cedex 1, France.


BELGIUM

Two gigs took place to raise money for the McLibel court case in London. In previous years occupations and blockades have taken place.


GERMANY

A group campaigning against McDonalds in Dusseldorf have received threats from the company.


UK

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 Greenpeace and 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.

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.

In November 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.

A group of young people called Kids Against Big Mac have organized pickets and are distributing their own leaflets and would like to here from other young people interested in doing the same.


SPAIN

200 people protested outside McDonald's in Valencia on World Food Day. A picket of a McDonald's in Madrid took place the same day. There is a McLibel support group in Spain


NORWAY

An anti-McDonald's group will be set up in the new year.


HOLLAND

On 15 and 16 October Anti McDonald's Day was marked with actions in Amsterdam, Groningen, Njmegen, Maastrict and Vlissingen.


PORTUGAL

Protesters were beaten up and arrested by police after a demonstration outside a Lisbon McDonald's where 80 demonstrators voiced their opposition to the BigMac. Leafleting continues across the country.


IRELAND

There were pickets of McDonald's stores in Dublin, Belfast and other towns. Since March 1994 the Alliance For Animal Rights (AFAR) in Galway have been harassed by the police and threatened with arrest for displaying placards and distributing information outside their local McDonald's. The manager of McDonald's has taken photographs of protesters. Violent threats and threats of libel action have been made to protesters who believe that they have had quite an effect on McDonald's trade in Galway. According to AFAR, Galway McDonald's is the only branch in Europe which is losing money. Victory!

There is a McLibel Support Group in Ireland


ITALY

On 26 February 1994 about 40 animal rights activists protested outside McDonald's in Torino. There was widespread public support for the protesters.


ICELAND

Copies of the leaflet "What's wrong with McDonald's" are circulating in Reykjavik. McDonald's moved into Iceland a year ago amid trade union protests.


CZECH REPUBLIC

A McLibel supporter in the Czech Republic writes "All people here, after the fall of socialism thought everything would be better, but I have to say that it is even worse. Rapid increase of racism, no one cares about the environment, our country is flooded with Western capitalism..."

There have been several actions against McDonald's in different Czech cities. On 7 December 1993 in the Moravian city of Brno, a McDonald's assistant manager sprayed tear gas in a photographer's face during a protest at the opening of the county's seventh McDonald's. After initially denying that the offender was a McDonald's employee, the company issued a formal apology to the Czech Press Agency photographer. The incident occurred when about 30 people, mainly from the environmental group Duha were pushed and carried out of a McDonald's restaurant where they had been eating vegetables in a peaceful protest. "Just taking up the space is a form of violence" said McDonald's public relations manager Drahomira Jirakova. The McDonald's employee was asked to pay a small fine but is still working at McDonald's. At a demo in Prague 200 people turned out and over $15000 of damage was caused in battles with the police when bricks and paint were thrown.

McDonald's are so worried about their image in the Czech republic that in October 1994 they pulled a publicity stunt inviting journalists and activists including animal rights group Animal SOS to inspect stores and meat processing plants.

Contact: Hnuti Duha Brno, Jakuska nam 7, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic and Hnuti Duha Plzen, Skolni 309, 330 08 Zruc, Czech Republic.


POLAND

Architectural professor, Stanislav Juchnowitz is amongst campaigners and residents trying to stop McDonald's opening a new store in Cracow, Poland. He said "The activities of this firm are symbolic of mass industrial civilization and a superficial cosmopolitan way of life". McDonald's already has 13 stores in Poland, but so far have been refused permission to open the store in Cracow's historic main square. New York Times International 23 May 1994. Actions against McDonald's also took place in Warsaw, Gdansk and Wroclaw on 4th July US Independence Day. McDonald's are seen as a symbol and front runners for unwelcome Western capitalism.

Contact: Green Brigade in Poland regarding nationwide protest.


HUNGARY

Anti McDonald's articles appear regularly in green publications, forcing correspondence from the chief manager of McDonalds in Hungary. In the town of Pecs a group of young anarchists are protesting against the building of two McDonald's stores.


CROATIA

A local group is being set up in Zagreb to organize against three McDonald's which are opening in the city. The McLibel Support Campaign was told "You have really big support here because people are against all multinational corporations, and there are more and more vegetarians and vegans every day".

Contact: All mail will be forwarded by the UK McLibel Support Campaign to their Croatian contact.


AUSTRALIA

At the Townsville Eco Fiesta, Queensland, in July 1994 singer Peter Garrett from rock band Midnight Oil gave an anti-McDonald's speech and leaflets were handed out.

Benefit gigs to raise funds for the court case in London have been held in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide - a recorded tape will be available soon to raise further funds.

The Operation Send it Back campaign has been active in Australia and there is an active Austalian McLibel Support Group.


AOTEAROA (NEW ZEALAND)

McDonald's environmental image was revealed to be a sham, and customers being conned when it was discovered that rubbish which customers were asked to put into separated recycling bins throughout New Zealand stores was sent to the tip. A McDonald's head office spokeswoman said all regional restaurants would install notices informing people that recycling has ended. Wellington Evening Post, 24 November 1994.

In June 1994 a McLibel Support Group was set up to organize protests and raise money for the London court case. Protests received widespread publicity. On 16 October, protests against McDonald's took place in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

The New Zealand McLibel Support Group also have a contact in SINGAPORE to whom they can forward mail.


HONG KONG

Protests included fly posting on 16 October.


ISRAEL

On 14 October leaflets in Hebrew were handed out by animal rights organization Anonymous and the Anarchist Federation, and twelve people were arrested for chaining themselves to the entrance of McDonald's on the opening day of a McDonald's in Israel.


INDIA

The India branch of Beauty Without Cruelty have produced an anti McDonald's leaflet and are trying to stop McDonald's entering India.

Contact: Beauty Without Cruelty, 4 Prince of Wales' Drive, Wanowrie, Poona 411 010, India.


CANADA

In Ontario during a long running trade union dispute, McDonald's reacted using highly controversial methods including getting employees to lie in the snow in the shape of the letters "NO" (to trade unions). The main trade union activist working at the store will be giving evidence at the London trial in 1995.


USA

On 4 March 1994 forty vegans held their 4th protest at the Berkeley branch of McDonald's in San Francisco.

In Philadelphia the Wages for Housework Campaign held a picket outside McDonald's to show their support for the McLibel Two, and had a "teach-in" about McDonald's and the London trial.

There was leafleting in many cities on Anti McDonald's day including New York City.

The USA McLibel Support Group started the McLibel/ anti-corporations e-mailing list in 1994

Contact: Wages for Housework Campaign, PO Box 11795, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101.


MEXICO

In Autumn 1994 in Mexico City 40 people, protesting at California's new anti immigrant referendum caused considerable damage to a McDonald's, seeing the company as a symbol of US imperialism. This was one of many actions which caused damage to McDonald's property


PHILIPPINES

A delegation of community activists attended the picket of the London court in September. Letters of support have been received from people concerned at the effects of McDonald's on local culture, diet and economy.