First Assistant and later Manager of the Colchester High Street restaurant
August 1987 was promoted to Supervisor
February 1991 was promoted to Senior Supervisor
1. This statement is supplemental to the first two statements I made in relation to my time as First Assistant and Manager of the Colchester High Street restaurant ("the restaurant"). On 1st August 1987 I was promoted to Supervisor and was succeeded as Manager by my First Assistant, Ray Coton. I was Ray Coton's Supervisor until February 1991, when I was promoted to Senior Supervisor and I ceased to have any responsibility for the restaurant. I have read Ray Coton's statements and have heard the evidence he gave in Court on which I have the following comments.
2. In general my recollection of Ray Coton is that he was very slow to learn how to run the restaurant properly but that he usually got there in the end. As a new Supervisor and the departing store Manager I was keen (a) not to cramp his own style of management and (b) to help him to develop as a Manager. In his early days he did not perform well and needed a considerable amount of training and input from me. For example, it took him ages to set up systems in the restaurant to attack problems, which resulted in my having to keep repeating the same things time and time again. I did however think he began to improve towards the end of my time as his Supervisor. Overall, I felt his biggest problem was not cost control but recruitment, motivation, training and retention of both crew and managers. He was a close personal friend of his First Assistant, Sally Spurgeon, and this resulted in petty bickering between them and the rest of the management team. In my view, this was a barrier to his developing younger managers.
3. Ironically, with one exception which I describe below and which, at the time, I put down to inexperience and not dishonesty, the one thing I always felt about Ray Coton was that he was trustworthy.
4. The incident I refer to is mentioned in the PR I gave him dated 11th May 1988 (page 36 of the bundle) in which I refer to "fiddled" inventories. Ray Coton had 'massaged' his inventory figures for one month, which rebounded on him the next. I told my Senior Supervisor, Tim Taylor, and he advised me to give Ray Coton a disciplinary warning. I gave him a stiff talking to instead as it was very early on in his managerial career and, as I say, I had put it down to stupidity and inexperience, not dishonesty.
5. I have recently re-read the PR's I gave Ray Coton when I was his Supervisor. Two themes keep cropping up. First, that he had insufficient numbers of crew and managers and those he had were not good enough. Ray Coton was well liked as a manager but not disciplined with his staff, by which I mean that the people in the restaurant were not working to their optimum. He gave no proper leadership. I considered that the quality of the management team and the training of them was poor.
6. The second problem was what I described as quality blindness. In my view, this was a symptom of both insufficient people and insufficient quality of people. The key to long term profitability is good service of quality products to the customer. This depends in large part on recruiting the right people, developing and training them and retaining them. Ray was not delivering good service of quality products and this did not allow him to build top line sales. Controllable costs are expressed as a percentage of top line sales, so it is not surprising that Ray Coton was not meeting his costs targets.
7. In his evidence Ray Coton admitted that he docked crew's hours and alleged that (1) I did this when I was the Manager; (2) I 'taught' him how to do it; and (3) I knew and approved of his doing it when I was his Supervisor. So far as I am concerned, those allegations are completely false and, for the following reasons, can be seen to be so:
(a) When I was Manager I held payroll surgeries every fortnight after 'payday'. I posted notices on the crew notice board announcing them. They were usually held on a Wednesday between 4 and 5 p.m. Payroll surgeries were common throughout the company. At these surgeries crew would sometimes draw attention to errors on their payslips, which would then be corrected. They also raised problems or queries regarding holiday pay, sick pay, scheduling etc.
In any event, I always encouraged crew to check their payslips against the hours they had worked. In my experience, at least 70% looked at them assiduously, 20% more cursorily and 10% did not bother. If crew found there was an error they were quick to bring this to management's attention. Consequently it would be impossible to dock hours systematically and over a long period of time without the crew knowing what was going on. When errors occurred, as they sometimes did, I always ensured that crew were reimbursed any shortfall. I believe payroll surgeries were held at some period when Ray Coton was manager, though I do not think they were constant or regular.
(b) I have no recollection of showing Ray Coton how to do the payroll. This was a simple exercise in addition and was usually done by second assistants, who would pass on their knowledge to more Junior second assistants and trainees. Payroll is one of the first things they are taught. Docking of hours would require no 'teaching'. If someone wanted to cheat, all they would have to do is to take off as much time as they wanted from the hours shown on the clockcards and then write the falsified figures on the payroll. I certainly never did this, and if anyone else had been doing it on anything but an occasional basis, I am sure I would have picked it up because it was my practice when I was Manager to check the payroll against the clockcards from time to time.
(c) Every year there was a Human Resources audit. We had to keep clockcards going back a few months, together with the schedules, and I cannot believe that regular docking of hours would have -tone unnoticed by Human Resources if it had been happening.
(d) Regular rap sessions were held in the restaurant when I was Manager. One of the areas discussed was payroll. If crew were regularly being underpaid it is inconceivable that they would not have complained. The complaints would then have been brought to my attention by my Area Supervisor. This never happened. It is also my belief that complaints would have been made to people outside the company as well, when, again, I would have expected it to come to my attention. Again, this did not happen.
8. When I was Ray Coton's Supervisor I never knew or suspected that he was docking hours. No one ever brought it to my attention. I did not check the clockcards or clockcard files against the payroll when I was Supervisor because, frankly, it never occurred to me that Ray Coton was cheating. I trusted all my Managers and never thought of implementing checks on their honesty.
9. Mention was made in Court of the crew turnover figures when I was Manager. The first year in which turnover figures are mentioned in my PR's or Ray Coton's is 1989. Before that time, the company did not collate data for turnover, probably because the payroll was not computerised, and so I have no idea what the actual turnover figures were. I believe it was with the introduction of the Husky Hunter system that turnover percentages were monitored. The first time I ever knew what the restaurant's turnover figures were was at a managers conference, the date of which I cannot recall, when each restaurant's figures were flashed on a screen. It was after this conference that turnover became one of the key indicators in monitoring a restaurant's performance. Before actual turnover figures first became available, my Supervisors and I would focus our attention on the overall number of staff in the restaurant, to see whether we had enough people to meet our needs. I do not remember having any great difficulty recruiting and retaining staff; but I would certainly accept that the restaurant always tended to have a high turnover. So far as my time as Manager is concerned, I largely put this down to the fact that we depended heavily on students and mothers with children (particularly army wives) for our part-time workers.
I make this statement as a supplement to my first statement dated 14th January 1994. I concentrate on allegations made by ex McDonalds employees who worked in the Colchester Restaurant in the mid 1980's and which were not covered in my first statement.
2. As I state in my first statement, Kevin Harrison was employed as a Second Assistant Manager at the Colchester Restaurant before he resigned. In my first statement I commented on most of the allegations made in his statement. However, I realise that there are some points I omitted to cover and which I should therefore now like to deal with.
3. In his statement Kevin criticises McDonalds for not providing shoes with non-slip soles for use in the grill area and says that although recommendations were made as to what form of shoe should be worn checks were seldom made. It is true to say that shoes are not supplied to crew members. It was made clear to all new employees at orientation that non porous, preferably leather shoes with a flat non-slip sole should be worn when working in the restaurant. It is the individual managers responsibility to stop people working with unsuitable shoes and when I was First Assistant or Restaurant Manager of the Colchester Restaurant I would ensure that all employees were wearing appropriate footwear. I should stress that it was primarily the crew members responsibility to provide himself with appropriate shoes. I should also mention that non-slip tiles are positioned in the grill area.
4. Kevin also alleges that the emptying or filtering of shortening in the frying vats was not strictly supervised and was often taken by crew members with little formal training. My recollection is that only experienced crew members would undertake the filtering of the shortening. The present position is that only crew members who have had formal training should filter the shortening. If a person is trained or experienced in filtering shortening supervision is not necessary. Further, I do not understand his point with regard to the use of protective clothing. This was supplied and crew members and managers knew that it should be worn. I would always ensure that crew members wore the protective clothing in my presence. Kevin, as a Assistant Manager, should have ensured that, when he was present, all crew who were filtering should have worn the protective clothing.
5. Kevin's general allegation that there was a "them and us attitude" between crew and managers and that crew members were exploited is very strange considering that he was an integral part of the management team. As far as I was concerned, a restaurant could only be successful if it worked as a team and that included management and crew members. Colchester was a successful restaurant and evidenced by its Restaurant of the Year Award in 1987. I deny that there was ever a "hidden agenda" and in my view it was and is company policy to ensure always that crew members were and are well looked after.
6. As a postscript, Kevin alleges that certain managers manipulated the tills in order to hide any cash discrepancies. I am aware that this has taken place in some restaurants during my time at McDonald's. I was not aware of it ever happening at the Colchester Restaurant when I was involved. If I had become aware of such a thing happening, I would have treated the matter extremely seriously and disciplined the person concerned. Manipulating the cash figures is a dismissible offence. It is not practically possible always to prevent this from happening but it is part of the managers' (including Assistant Managers') duties to be vigilant and aware of what could be going on. Managers are also trained in ways of detecting manipulation of the till system.
7. I commented in detail on Siamak's statement dated 25th March 1988 in my first statement. In this statement I concentrate on his supplementary statement dated 13th April 1994.
8. Section 1 of his statement concerns hygiene.
9. Siamak alleges that food which should have been cooked from frozen was occasionally cooked in a defrosted state, with the knowledge of the managers. In my time as Assistant Manager or Restaurant Manager at the Colchester Restaurant no such defrosted food was ever cooked as far as I am aware. If frozen food was defrosted it was thrown away. If I had ever become aware of people attempting to cook defrosted food, disciplinary action would have been considered. The large freezers in McDonald's Restaurants did not and do not, in my experience, break down on "numerous occasions". For example, I am presently responsible for approximately 35 restaurants and only two freezers broke down in the course of the whole of last year in all of those 35 restaurants.
10. In paragraph 1.2 Siamak alleges that raw meat would be sold. In my experience, raw meat was never knowingly sold. If this had happened with any regularity, I am sure that I would have known of it; customers would have complained and it would inevitably have come to the attention of the local Environmental Health Officer. It is fair to say that cooking procedures and awareness of food safety have progressed substantially in the last ten years or so. The grills are now clamshell grills and automatically sear the meat. I disagree that "quite a bit of strength" was required to sear the meat properly when using the old system grills. The restaurant would have had a number of checks to make sure that raw or undercooked meat was not sold such as regular calibration of the grill temperatures, maintenance of the holding time in the production bin and ensuring the person on wrap and call checked all the meat coming off the grill.
11. Siamak is incorrect in paragraph 1.3 to state that shake mix had to be thrown away at the end of each day. The standard procedure was for left over shake mix at the end of one day to be stored overnight in the fridge and used the next day. The leftover shake mix (the rerun) would be entered in the shake machine before a particularly busy period to ensure that it was used up quickly and that no shake mix would be left for longer than 24 hours. As a further safety precaution, on a weekly basis, any left over shake would always be thrown away in order to break the bacteria chain.
12. In paragraph 1.4 Siamak alleges that when drains were blocked the store was never closed to the public. I have dealt with this matter in paragraphs 12 and 26 of my first statement. Siamak's allegation in paragraph 1.5 about out of date lettuce and onions is not true.
13. Section 2 of Siamak's supplementary statement concerns health and safety. I do not recall the episode Siamak describes whilst he was filtering shortening. However, I would say that had a filtering hose been faulty it would have been fixed immediately. I would never have taken risks of the sort he describes. Similarly, if the visor had been lost that would have been replaced as a matter of urgency. In paragraph 2.2 Siamak states that the Mac bun toasters top plate was loose and he was burned as a result. The top hot plate is designed to be loose to allow easy access and although I accept that it could theoretically fall on the operator I would say that this would be a very rare occurrence. I cannot recall anyone being burnt by such a thing happening. I am aware that the restaurant's accident book records the accident to Vicky Golding (though I do not specifically recall the incident which took place in 1986). In my experience such an accident would be a very unusual occurrence.
14. In paragraph 2.4 Siamak alleges that he was put in charge of routine maintenance of electrical equipment in the restaurant. I do not recall this happening although I accept that he may well have been put in charge of these routine tasks if he had shown an aptitude for this work. At the time of Siamak's employment there was no requirement that the person put in charge should be specially trained. Now the employee appointed has to be trained by attending an Electricity at Work course. In addition, all electrical appliances are now regularly checked by electrical contractors.
15. In paragraph 3.1 Siamak suggests that I am incorrect in saying that there was a taxi account for staff who worked on the close. I reiterate that there was such an account and it was available to the employees who worked on the close and who could not get home easily either by way of a lift or public transport. Siamak might well have been one of the employees who lived on the route home of one of the managers who could have given him a lift.
16. With regard to rap sessions in Colchester we did not nominate members of the crew who should appear on the rap sessions. We thought a fairer cross section would be achieved by asking whoever was working at the particular time scheduled for the session to attend if they wanted to. Managers always received a transcript of the rap session. The transcript did not however include the names of the people who made the particular comments about the management of the particular restaurant. I believe these transcripts were thrown away after about two years. Frank Stanton (the Area Supervisor of the Restaurant for a period) may have chaired a rap session even though he was the Area Supervisor of the restaurant. If that was the case this would definitely have been the exception rather than the rule. I do not accept that rap sessions were not taken seriously by the crew. They were serious meetings for the crew to communicate any comments or grievances about the restaurant and every attempt was made to ensure that they were a constructive contribution to inter-staff communications within the restaurant.
17. In paragraph 3.4 Siamak complains for the purpose of calculating breaks and employee food entitlement the close was treated as midnight. It is the policy to treat the close as midnight. If the restaurant is a busy one, as Colchester is, and the close does not take place until 1.00a.m. the managers would allow a 5 minute break as the restaurant is being cleared up.
18. Finally, in paragraph 3.5 Siamak alleges that I told him to squeeze the fry box when filling them to increase the overall yield. I deny saying this. Such a suggestion would have been totally self defeating as customers would soon realise that they were being cheated as the fries in the box would drop as soon as the grip was released.
19. I confirm to the best of my knowledge and belief this statement is true and accurate.
January 14, 1994|
|supplementary statement signed:||
December 22, 1995|
Appeared in court|
exhibits: Not applicable/ available
transcripts of court appearances: