On Wednesday June 9th 1999, McDonald's UK was fined nearly 10,000 pounds for
continuing to serve burgers and fries in a restaurant flooded with raw sewage.
Coventry Magistrates Court heard that workers at the branch in Walsgrave, Coventry, carried on serving food for 4 hours, even though sewage had flooded the refrigerator and food storage areas. They only stopped when health and safety officers arrived and closed the branch down following complaints from parents whose child was unable to use the restaurant's lavatories.
McDonald's admitted failing to protect food against contamination and failing to keep its premises clean.
McLibel Support Campaign comment:1. The large fine underlines the Court's view of the seriousness and irresponsibility of the incident.
2. McDonald's ex-workers, called by the defence during the McLibel case, testified to similar incidents happening at their stores. The reason given for their stores continuing to remain open for business was always the same - the permanent management obsession with keeping sales and profits up, and the lack of workers' rights to challenge management power.
3. The above incident only came to public attention due to a complaint and the immediate visit of Health & Safety officers. There must be dozens of similar incidents which the company get away with or manage to successfully cover up.
4. Such incidents are part of a wider pattern of 'cutting corners' by the Corporation at store level in order to boost profits - including [as found during the McLibel trial] undercooking of burgers, illegal underpayment of workers, cutting of workers' break times, falsifying of official records, the watering down of drinks, and the use of unsafe equipment (including electrical equipment) etc etc.
As far as we know, no manager has ever been sacked for such practices (before or after the trial). And no action has been taken by the company, as far as we know, against those in high positions responsible for other unlawful, unethical and deceptive practices found by the McLibel trial judge - mass circulation of deceptive nutritional promotion material, the systematic exploitation of children, profit-driven cruelty to animals etc.