In my seven years with the company I have had a fantastic time. I’ve made friends for life and the network of people I have met in my area has transformed it from an obscure community into somewhere I can proudly call home. Furthermore, I have developed and nurtured skills that are well respected in the employment market and have already began to reap rewards. However, these benefits are largely attributable to the tremendous group of people I have been lucky enough to work with and are more than offset by the gross exploitation I have suffered at the hands of the corporation.
As a manager for four years, my regular shift was one of eight hours from 4pm until midnight without a rostered break. I’d be lucky on most nights to have five minutes to scoff down some food and even then I would be interrupted by someone calling for the manager. Often busy shifts would extend to 10 or 11 hours duration but still be without a break.
While employment contracts stipulated that overtime would be paid when crew or managers worked in excess of 8 hours, this was only ever paid if the employee demanded it. Even then it might be refused or just overlooked by administration until the problem went away. At one stage when learning of this clause in my contract, I traced the unpaid overtime for which I had time sheet records of over the past 12 months. When I put in a claim for $500 it was flatly refused. Their reasoning was that as a manager I was required to work according to the demands of each shift which often meant overtime. The fact that I was paid a management allowance of $2 per hour on each shift meant that I was to sacrifice my contractual entitlements to overtime. There was however, no reference to this allowance in the contract.
Currently, 15 year old crew are required to work between the hours of 6am and 2am from Monday to Saturday on a flat rate without penalties applying. Each year $78 is deducted from their pay for the social club from which two or three social activities are held. If one doesn’t attend, there is no refund they simply miss out. Who ever heard of the boss putting the Christmas party on out of his employees' pockets?
McDonald’s greatest problem - one shared by most multi-nationals - is that its sole objective is to maximise profits. This object is achieved by scrutiny of the bottom line - increasing sales while reducing costs. As the greatest expense on the McDonald’s profit and loss sheet is its labour costs, employees, whether they be crew or management, are effectively treated not as people, but as just another expense to be minimised.
Full time managers are under immense pressure to meet budgets and in some cases 15% of their gross salary is lost if they fail to do so. While this is a common place incentive in capitalist lines of management, because McDonald’s is so labour intensive, it can result in very stressful but unrewarding working conditions for teenagers to be employed in.
McDonald’s does try to put a soft edge on this corporate bullying by establishing themselves as a benevolent mult-national through various charities such as Ronald McDonald House and McHappy Day. However, McHappy Day in most restaurants is the busiest day of the year from which McDonald’s makes record profits. This leads to the unconscionable conclusion that McDonald;s actually expolits charities as well. Similarly, Ronald McDonald House would generate enough popular appeal amongst consumers to make it a purposeful investment alone not to mention its use to legitimise the establishment of new restaurants in public places such as children’s hospitals.
Nevertheless, on a global scale McDonald’s sales trends are down as consumer demand shifts towards healthier choice. Meanwhile, crew turnover rates are rising as young people, more educated about their rights, decide they have had enough exploitation. The result is a number of McDonald’s stores (in this country anyway) closing down due to a failure to meet expectations.
Who knows, while it may not occur in this lifetime, one day a revolution might take place where the mighty golden arches comes crashing down for good. . . oh how sweet it would be!