Today we (McLibel Support Campaign) have received a Statement from the McDonald's Workers Resistance
(MWR) organisation [see below]. Based in Scotland, they have sent out this
message to activists around the world, including to those, like themselves,
who are employed by the transnational corporation. They call for cooperation
and solidarity among all those opposing McDonald's.
The MWR's first public statement was last year on October 12th. On
October 12th 1992, Mark Hopkins, a worker at a McDonald's store in
Manchester was electrocuted in the 'wash-up' area. (On 8th March 1996, a
crew member from Wollongong in Australia, also died from electrocution in
controversial circumstances). In recent years there have been leafletting of
McDonald's staff, solidarity pickets and other protests on October 12th.
"I want every McDonald's worker to stand up for their rights, which is why I
am backing this campaign 100%. In this way, Mark's death will not have been
- Maureen Hopkins, Mark's mother.
Over the last year, MWR have been building up their activities (including
producing their own magazine 'McSues') their network and their international
contacts. We have done our best to give them support. They are now proposing
a unified Day of Action next year on October 16th.
Naturally, there is discontent and anger in every store among those being
forced to work so hard for such low wages, being bossed around like slaves,
brainwashed by idiotic company propaganda, and then expected to smile all
the time! And all so that McDonald's can make fat profits from its mediocre
and useless products.
However, due to McDonald's repressive but sophisticated methods in opposing
any workers challenging the status quo, there is a great need for outside
support and solidarity. Over a million and a half people worldwide work for
McDonald's - they work in similar conditions, carefully created and
controlled by management to maximise company profits. McDonald's have
pioneered methods of exploitation which have been widely taken up by other
companies and corporations. All workers in the food industry, and in every
industry under capitalism everywhere, are exploited - but McDonald's is an
excellent symbol of a global economy dominated by institutions geared to
profiteering. Resistance to McDonald's - whether communities opposing the
siting of new stores, campaigners undermining their public image, or from
store workers standing up to management power - is greatly strengthened when
those involved work together and support eachother.
On the day of worldwide protests against McDonald's we send our solidarity
The McLibel Support Campaign, London
FROM: McDONALD'S WORKERS RESISTANCE, SCOTLAND - October 16th 2001
Since the mid-80s, October 16th (UN world food day)
has been World Anti-McDonalds Day. In October 2000,
there were hundreds of pickets and protests all over
the world. On October 16th 2002, McDonalds workers
will be taking action around the globe and we are
appealing for help from all those opposed to
McExploitation of people and planet to help make…
OCTOBER 16th 2002…
The biggest ever…
GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST MCDONALDS!
McDonalds Workers Resistance (MWR) will be taking
action around the following demand:
"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".
MORE ABOUT THIS ACTION…
WHY A GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION?
In supporting one big day of action we do not make the
mistake of believing that one off eruptions can
replace daily struggle. Thousands take actions
against McDonalds every day we work, every incidence
of theft or sabotage, every refusal of discipline is
action against McDonalds. The global day of action is
not in place of daily struggle, it is to inspire it,
to develop it.
Our actions will be about more than just our working
conditions - we will be acting against environmental
destruction, we will be acting in solidarity with
those displaced from their land - our action is
against a whole catalogue of abuses committed in the
name of profit.
Traditionally, there has been a separate day of action
(October 12th) in solidarity with McDonalds workers.
We support one day of action for all those in struggle
against McDonalds, whether they are directly exploited
by the company or not, for we believe that only when
those who produce the worlds wealth directly control
that production will we see an end to the profit
principle and all which it entails. We do not accept
that our demand for freedom to organise is
disassociated from campaigns against exploitative
advertising, from the angry local communities opposing
the building of new McDonalds, or from the movements
of the landless displaced by cattle ranching. Workers
organisation is not a single issue.
In calling for actions against McDonalds, we do not
make the mistake of equating oppression and
exploitation with only fast food restaurants or
multinational corporations. People say to us- 'if you
don't like it then quit', but we know too well that
there are many jobs as bad or even worse than
McDonalds. So we seek to develop contacts with other
workers in other industries. For example, workers
organising in call centres have distributed our
literature at local McDonalds and we have distributed
theirs at local call centres. It's not just McDonalds
or Mcjobs, it's the very idea of wage labour. And
how many McDonalds workers have been forced into the
job by government unemployment agencies? How
expendable are we when the government can send
reinforcements from an army of forced labour should we
become too rebellious? We recognise that our struggle
is inextricably linked with that of benefits
However, there are a number of reasons why McDonalds
is the perfect target for a global day of action:
- McDonalds is global, invading towns around the world
and through its effect on the environment affecting
everyone and everything on the planet.
- McDonalds is local- the focus of these actions will
not be distant meetings but very visible sites of
exploitation in the centre of our communities.
- McDonalds is possibly hated by more people for more
reasons than any other company on earth.
- Because of the Mclibel trial and the McSpotlight web
site there is an unusual amount of McDonalds related
information in the public domain.
- McDonalds is symbolic, it is a symbol of
triumphalist capitalism, arrogant and contemptuous of
Those who oppose it.
"DECONSTRUCTING THE GOLDEN ARCHES IS FLAG BURNING FOR THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY"
If workers can take on McDonalds it will be an
inspiration not just to all McDonalds workers but to
low paid employees the world over. If a global
movement can stop the Mcmega-machine, even for just
one day, then it will inspire all those who desire
social and ecological justice.
TAKEN FROM 'BLACK FLAG' MAGAZINE, 1987…
"The problem for McDonalds workers is that they don't
know which way to turn. (…) McDonalds will have to
face external pressure, on an international basis if
it is going to be made to capitulate. (…) And if the
official trade unions have not got the will to do the
job then a more militant organisation will have to
take the initiative instead.
In the meantime it should be noted that Friday October
16 has been designated a world wide Day of Action
Against McDonalds, sponsored with the help of London
Greenpeace. If McDonalds and their ilk are to be
really made to suffer then a mere one day of smashing
windows and gluing up locks wont suffice. Instead
what is needed is a concerted and sustained campaign
to mobilise the McDonalds workforce. (…) McDonalds is,
of course, only one of the more visible opponents of
unionisation and practitioners of workplace
exploitation. But there has to be a start somewhere.
And if a campaign to organise the unorganised can be
begun and won in one small quarter then others will
NOW IS THE TIME!
MORE ABOUT MCDONALDS WORKERS…
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GLASGOW MWR…
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WERE 40 - Glasgow MWR originated
some years ago when about forty workers, provoked by
unpaid bonuses, made an unsuccessful attempt at
starting a union at one store in Glasgow.
THEN THERE WERE 15- After a period of dormancy, we
regrouped with new tactics and about two years ago we
adopted the name MWR. Unlike the failed union drive,
MWR was always an 'underground' group, a very loose
collection of the most pissed (off) and disobedient
employees from a few Glasgow stores. We practised
sabotage and insisted on replacing McDonalds
hierarchies with direct democracy. As time progressed
we began to realise the futility of trying to take
McDonalds on in one store or one town.
Simultaneously, our numbers dropped and our increasing
secrecy made it difficult for new people to become
THEN THERE WERE 8 - We decided to try to provoke and
link resistance by Mcworkers around the UK and the
world. We made contact with a few others in England
and agreed (somewhat unclearly) that MWR should become
a network. By now we were becoming more generally
opposed to capitalism and we developed contact with
local revolutionaries who helped us distribute our
news sheet 'McSues'. We also made contact with the
McSpotlight crowd and on October 12th 2000, we finally
'went public'. The first issue of McSues was
distributed from Alaska, USA to Christchurch, New
Zealand. We are indebted to all our friends who have
helped get the rag to Mcworkers. Over the last year
we have developed a substantial network and have been
frustrated by our inability to support each other
better. How do we escape the feeling of isolation and
overcome our geographical separation?
THEN THERE WERE 5 - We think the answer is the global
day of action, a chance for Mcworkers and its other
opponents to realise our collective strength. There
are only five of us in the Glasgow group now but there
are thousands of us around the world. We would like
to think that what the Glasgow group lacks in numbers,
we make up in experience and commitment- we have now
been working together in practical opposition to the
company for years, and want to see the complete
abolition of the wages system. But while we never
hide our politics, we do not aim to convert other
Mcworkers to our views. Rather, we will continue to
produce accessible ideas, encouraging other workers to
take action against the company in what ever way they
see fit. We believe that the experience of class
struggle will affect others as it has affected us, and
will lead them to similar conclusions.
RECENT MCDONALDS WORKERS STRUGGLES
Over the last year, McDonalds workers have been
rebelling around the globe. There have been various
events in Italy, including a successful strike in
The workers of McDonalds Wiesbaden in Germany were
forced to go to court after they got sacked for being
in a union. Eighty percent of the restaurants workers
were members of the union so McDonalds shut the store.
That story will be all to familiar to McDonalds
employees in Canada where many attempts at
unionisation have been defeated by some pretty twisted
campaigns. At the Peel Street store in Montreal the
solidarity was exceptional and after a long and bitter
legal battle the courts officially recognised the
union. The victory was only a moral one- McDonalds
had already shut down the restaurant. There have
followed a number of arson attacks against McDonalds
restaurants in Canada which may be related. In Paris,
workers occupied their store and went on strike. When
the company sacked several workers a protest was
called. Striking McDonalds workers were joined by
Pizza Hut employees and anti-capitalist activists.
The angry crowd hurled stink bombs at McDonalds
restaurants. In Russia there are few independent trade
unions but one has been established in Moscow
McDonalds. In the UK there are several active groups
of McDonalds workers including the excellent Workers
Resistance Against McDonalds (WRAM). Like MWR, WRAM
is developing an international network. They have a
highly recommended web site at:www.wram.cjb.net
Actions in UK McDonalds over the last year have
included workers leafleting customers about their
working conditions, a partial walk out, and at one
store a 'phone in sick day'. Around the world last
year there were scores of attempts at organising
McDonalds restaurants and dozens of court cases
questioning McDonalds employment practices. While
there has definitely been an upturn in activity
recently, similar struggles have been occurring for
years, in France, Spain, Canada, the USA, Ireland,
Mexico- where there is McDonalds there is McDonalds
Every McDonalds is given a Polaroid camera and
managers are instructed to take pictures of
protesters. So, depending on the action you are
planning, you may want to wear some sort of mask and
take other precautions. There are all sorts of
actions you can take against McDonalds, some are
difficult and need lots of preparation, others can be
done easily by one person. Use your imagination!
Please remember that neither McDonalds workers nor
their customers are to blame for McDonalds catalogue
of crimes. Most McDonalds workers hate the place but
just need a job, contrary to letters we receive, not
everyone can work on an organic farm. Similarly,
there are few people in the richer countries who have
never eaten at McDonalds. McDonalds specifically
target children as young as two with their
advertising, while for others it is just a reasonably
cheap and convenient place to eat, especially where
local alternatives have been taken over. We think the
solution to social and ecological problems is through
mass popular action, the role of all of us who become
especially involved in social struggle, whether it be
promoting workplace unrest or rioting at leaders
summits, is to inspire, encourage and participate in
this mass action, not to compensate for its absence
through living a pure lifestyle or kidding ourselves
that our actions represent others. We therefor do not
support actions that intend to injure or intimidate
workers or customers.
PO Box 3828
We would be indebted to anyone who could translate
some or all of this message into another language.
The workers united are more possible than they can powerfully imagine!
MWR, PO Box 3828, Glasgow, G41
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