|experience:||Reasearcher on a documentary recording McDonald's|
Training on how to prepare the food properly was also fairly conspicuous by its absence. Although there are endless details about how the hamburgers, milkshakes etc., should be prepared (55 seconds to dress both buns for the Big Mac; 35 seconds between removing one lot of meat patties and turning over the next run, etc.) staff are not really trained on how to do the actual food production. At the Strand store one lad was grilling the Quarter Pounder meat patties within 30 minutes of starting.
Reasearcher for Jane Gabriel Productions.
(not available for this witness)
In the process of doing research I worked five shifts split between the two stores that ran from 11.00 am to 4.00pm. Although the company knew that I was a researcher, and indeed gave permission for me to work these shifts in order to experience what it was like as a crew member, I was treated exactly as though I was indeed a full employee of McDonald's - no quarter was given. I worked as part of the grill teams and had to keep up with them and the pattern that the rest of the team was working. Thus on the two long shifts I had a 2 minute drink break and no more.
On another occasion, also at the Strand store, I was passed a tray of toasted buns to dress. At least four of the buns were mouldy blue. I again pointed this out to the Grill Team leader and to the Floor Manager. It was at the height of the lunchtime rush, when the pressure to keep producing is intense. Again, both Grill Team Leader and Floor Manager shrugged. The Floor manager suggested that by the time the Big Mac sauce was on, nobody would ever taste it.
At the Croydon store, whilst working, again during the lunchtime period, a tray of buns were dropped by a fellow team member. The buns were retrieved from the floor and quickly used.
Although these were specific examples of poor quality food, there was a geneal approach which belies the McDonald's boast of Tender Loving Care and Quality, Service, Excellence (QSE). At the height of the rush, meat patties often crumbled or broke into pieces. They were stuck together by being sandwiched in the bun.
Buns often got stuck in the toaster and had to be poked out. The workers would burn their fingers and hands doing this. If the buns were not too badly crumpled they were then passed on to the dresser for use.
In my view the reason for this poor quality food was that staff were so wary of the abuse they would receive from the floor and shift managers if the production line was ever halted that they simply ignored bad or rotting food. This wariness extended from the lowliest crew members working on their first shifts up to and including shift managers who were subjected to similar abuse from Store Managers.
At the Croydon store, one of the lads, a full time worker, some 18 years old, drunk a carton of milk during the height of the pressure on his shift. You are only supposed to drink and eat McDonald's food during food breaks. He was instantly sacked as a result of this.
At the Strand store, I never saw anyone allowed to leave at the official end of their shift. The pattern was to report to the Floor Manager at the end of the shift and ask for permission to leave. Without exception the crew member was always told to do something no matter how trivial that would delay their departure beyond their shift - whether it was wipe down the tables, sweep up the area, etc. Sometimes the delay was only a couple of minutes, sometimes it would obviously involve considerably longer, perhaps half and hour. I saw a number of crew members protest, and in each case the answer was that if they didn't like it, they could always leave the company.
One of the crew members at the Strand, a young black woman, under 20, was arguing with her shift manager one evening. If he insisted on keeping her on beyond her shift she'd miss her last bus home, and end up having to catch a taxi. Again the simple reply was that if she didn't like it she needn't bother coming back for her next shift.
The crew members were clearly frightened of speaking their minds on film.
We filmed a rap sesson at the Strand Store at which relatively mild complaints were made.
We also filmed a session at the "Hamburger University" at which a Manager asked a question implying criticism of the training programme. Bill Tyndale, Dean of Hamburger University, supervising the filming, immediately intervened and said we couldn't use the question.
Later the PR woman who accompanied us throughout the filming revealed that the Manager had been told off by Tyndale for asking his question. The Manager was asked whether this counted as a severe reprimand and was told that it didn't mean he'd lose his job. Later, however, she had heard Bill Tyndale ring Paul Preston, the President of McDonald's Ltd. in Britain, to report that the Manager in question had been critical of McDonald's training techniques and was therefore perhaps not a suitable person to be Store Manager.
This was fairly typical of attitudes throughout our filming. During the rap session one of the crew members didn't want to go - he thought they were a waste of time since nobody took any real notice of them - was ordered by his store manager to attend.
Indeed in my case I was given a quick demonstration of how to do the Big Mac dressing and was then left alone for the entire shift at the Strand.
Indeed the details laid down in the various manuals appear to exist for testing purposes should a crew member wish to rise up the ladder, rather than instruction manuals which demonstrate how to prepare the food properly.
|date signed:||July 23, 1993|
|status:||Appeared in court|
exhibits: Not applicable/ available
transcripts of court appearances: