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McLibel Support Campaign
P R E S S . R E L E A S E . 02/09/02
Worldwide Anti-McDonald's Day, Wednesday Oct 16th - CALL FOR ACTION!
1. World Anti-McDonald's Day - Wednesday October 16th 2. This year McDonald's workers call for joint action 3. The Global Campaign 4. What's Wrong With McDonald's? CALL FOR ACTION ON WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 16th - WORLDWIDE ANTI-McDONALD'S DAY
Wednesday October 16th 2002 will be 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.
The 17th annual day of action was held on Tues October 16th 2001. Last year we had reports of local protests all around the globe, including from Australia, Phillipines, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Malta, Israel, UK, Greece, Italy, Russia, Croatia and USA.
In 1999, when we had specifically monitored where the October 16th protests took place, we heard of 425 protests and pickets in 345 towns in 23 countries. Millions of leaflets have now been handed out in over 27 languages worldwide since 1990 when the McDonald's Corporation took legal action against the McLibel 2 aiming to suppress the original London Greenpeace leafletting campaign. This surely demonstrates the determination of community activists to ensure that the public have the opportunity to see through the glossy marketing propaganda that big business continually forces upon us.
THIS YEAR, A JOINT CALL FOR ACTION FROM McDONALD'S OWN WORKERS
This year we are very pleased to announce that the growing international network of McDonald's employees - the McDonald's Workers Resistance, established in 2000 - is calling for McDonald's workers around the world to take joint action on the same day, October 16th. Workers could phone in sick, hold partial walk-outs and go slows etc, and send messages of support to protestors outside stores.
MWR say: ' 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, please visit http://www.mwr.org.uk
SO WHY NOT ORGANISE PICKETS AND PROTESTS IN YOUR TOWN ON WED OCT 16th (OR ANY DAY THAT WEEK)? And please send us a report!
Please copy the 'What's Wrong With McDonald's?' leaflet at: www.mcspotlight.org/campaigns/current/resources.html [or use latest text below]
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THE GLOBAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST McDONALD'S, AND ALL THEY STAND FOR, CONTINUES TO GROW
Food is central to our everyday lives, yet we have virtually no control over its production and distribution. The food industry is dominated by multinational companies who for their own profits exploit consumers, workers, the world's natural resources and billions of farmed animals. The way we eat, and even the way we think about food is being manipulated by these powerful institutions and their sophisticated marketing campaigns.
To understand the reality behind the propaganda, we can focus on McDonald's - one of the most powerful, influential and well-known global companies.
Despite its strenuous efforts, McDonald's is widely despised, and its 'reputation' - along with that of the food industry in general - continues to sink ever further.
As well as the mass distribution of leaflets by thousands of local activists around the world, especially on the annual October 16th Anti-McDonald's Day, the global campaign against McDonald's has continued to grow over the last two or three years:
- many determined residents' campaigns against new stores, including a successful 552-day occupation of a proposed McDonald's site by residents of Hinchley Wood, S.E. England, campaigns against drive-thrus in Canada, and protest blockades in Voronezh (S. Russia) and Eastern Europe
- mass anti-McDonald's protests by french farmers, including a 30,000-strong demo
- new efforts by McDonald's workers to organise together to stand up to their bosses (eg. in the UK, France, Russia and Canada)
- protests at the Sydney 2000 Olympics against McDonald's mass use of refrigeration chemicals linked to global warming
- an ongoing international scandal over extreme labour exploitation in China for the production of McDonald's 'happy meal' toys
- global controversy over their sponsorship of the United Nations Childrens Fund. A jury of 800 UK parents awarded a special 'pester power' title to McDonald's for the way it markets its Happy Meals at children
- controversies over their involvement in schools and hospitals
- McDonald's USA sued and forced to apologise and pay out millions of dollars for deceiving their customers by not revealing beef extract was a content of their supposedly vegetarian french fries
- a lawsuit against US junk food corporations McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, and Wendys on behalf of millions of customers mislead by the systematic and unethical promotion of unhealthy food products, and as a result suffering from obesity, heart disease and a range of other serious health problems
- growing concern throughout Europe and the US about the threat to human health posed by beef-related diseases (such as BSE) and genetically-modified animal feed
- a scandal after releasing a new sandwich called the "McAfrika" in Norway, one of the world's richest countries, at a time when 12 million people are facing starvation in southern Africa
- McDonald's increasingly identified by a wide range of protestors worldwide as a symbol of modern capitalism
- recent successive falls in their global profits and corporate closure of many stores (eg a third of their stores in Turkey) ... US Chief Executive admits that 2001 was the "most challenging" year in McDonald's 47-year history.
Meanwhile, the McLibel case continues to generate bad publicity for McDonald's. The defendants Helen Steel and Dave Morris are currently taking the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights over oppressive and unfair UK libel laws. Many damning legal rulings were made against the company: exploiting children with their advertising strategy; deceiving consumers by claiming their food is nutritious; promoting food linked to a greater risk of heart disease; paying low wages; and being responsible for animal cruelty. But the defendants are arguing that, to protect the public's freedom of speech, corporations should not be allowed to bring such cases against protestors at all.
- McLibel Support Campaign, London England
Feel free to amend, add local contact details, print out, copy and distribute:
WHAT'S WRONG WITH McDONALD'S? McDonald's spend well over $2 billion every year worldwide on advertising and promotions, trying to cultivate an image of being a 'caring' and 'green' company that is also a fun place to eat.
Children are lured in (dragging their parents behind them) with the promise of toys and other gimmicks. But behind the smiling face of Ronald McDonald lies the reality - McDonald's only interest is money, making profits from whoever and whatever they can, just like all multinational companies. McDonald's Annual Reports talk of 'Global Domination' - they aim to open more and more stores across the globe - but their continual worldwide expansion means more uniformity, less choice and the undermining of local communities.
PROMOTING UNHEALTHY FOOD McDonald's promote their food as 'nutritious', but the reality is that it is junk food - high in fat, sugar and salt, and low in fibre and vitamins. A diet of this type is linked with a greater risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Their food also contains many chemical additives, some of which may cause ill-health, and hyperactivity in children. Don't forget too that meat is the cause of the majority of food poisoning incidents. In 1991 McDonald's were responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning in the UK, in which people suffered serious kidney failure. With modern intensive farming methods, other diseases - linked to chemical residues or unnatural practices - have become a danger to people too (such as BSE).
EXPLOITING WORKERS Workers in the fast food industry are paid low wages. McDonald's do not pay overtime rates even when employees work very long hours. Pressure to keep profits high and wage costs low results in understaffing, so staff have to work harder and faster. As a consequence, accidents (particularly burns) are common. The majority of employees are people who have few job options and so are forced to accept this exploitation, and they're compelled to 'smile' too! Not surprisingly staff turnover at McDonald's is high, making it virtually impossible to unionise and fight for a better deal, which suits McDonald's who have always been opposed to Unions.
ROBBING THE POOR Vast areas of land in poor countries are used for cash crops or for cattle ranching, or to grow grain to feed animals to be eaten in the West. This is at the expense of local food needs. McDonald's continually promote meat products, encouraging people to eat meat more often, which wastes more and more food resources. 7 million tons of grain fed to livestock produces only 1 million tons of meat and by-products. On a plant-based diet and with land shared fairly, almost every region could be self-sufficient in food.
DAMAGING THE ENVIRONMENT Forests throughout the world - vital for all life - are being destroyed at an appalling rate by multinational companies. McDonald's have at last been forced to admit to using beef reared on ex-rainforest land, preventing its regeneration. Also, the use of farmland by multinationals and their suppliers forces local people to move on to other areas and cut down further trees.
McDonald's are the world's largest user of beef. Methane emitted by cattle reared for the beef industry is a major contributor to the 'global warming' crisis. Modern intensive agriculture is based on the heavy use of chemicals which are damaging to the environment. Every year McDonald's use thousands of tons of unnecessary packaging, most of which ends up littering our streets or polluting the land buried in landfill sites.
MURDERING ANIMALS The menus of the burger chains are based on the torture and murder of millions of animals. Most are intensively farmed, with no access to fresh air and sunshine, and no freedom of movement. Their deaths are barbaric - 'humane slaughter' is a myth. We have the choice to eat meat or not, but the billions of animals massacred for food each year have no choice at all.
CENSORSHIP and McLIBEL Criticism of McDonald's has come from a huge number of people and organisations over a wide range of issues. In the mid-1980's, London Greenpeace drew together many of those strands of criticism and called for an annual World Day of Action against McDonald's. This takes place every year on 16th October, with pickets and demonstrations all over the world. McDonald's, who spend a fortune every year on advertising, tried and failed to silence world-wide criticism by threatening legal action. Many were forced to back down because they lacked the money to fight a case. But Helen Steel and Dave Morris, two supporters of London Greenpeace, defended themselves in a major UK High Court libel trial. Despite all the cards being stacked against them, denied Legal Aid and a jury trial, Helen and Dave turned the tables and exposed the truth by putting McDonald's business practices on trial. Some damning judgments were made against McDonald's and protests against the $40 billion a year fast-food giant continue to grow.
It's vital to stand up to intimidation and to defend free speech.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Together we can fight back against the institutions and the people in power who dominate our lives and our planet, and we can create a better society without exploitation. Workers can and do organise together to fight for their rights and dignity. People are increasingly aware of the need to think seriously about the food we and our children eat. People in poor countries are organising themselves to stand up to multinationals and banks which dominate the world's economy. Environmental and animal rights protests and campaigns are growing everywhere. Why not join in the struggle for a better world. Talk to friends and family, neighbours and workmates about these issues. Please copy and circulate this leaflet as widely as you can.