Press Release


9 September 1996; Geneva, Switzerland

Press Index

The famous McDonald's clown has recently been put in charge of labour relations at McDonald's. The appointment has already resulted in the creation of a so-called 'European Communications Group' ('ECG') designed to ratify the company's anti-union policy and pre-empt the European Works Council directive of the European Union, which will take effect on September 22.

The Hotel, Restaurant, Catering and Tourism Workers' Trade Group Board of the IUF, meeting in Espoo, Finland on September 5 and 6, denounced the 'ECG' as an operation consistent with single minded hostility to trade unions, minimum wages laws or any other obstacle to its exploitation of young and vulnerable workforce.

A group of McDonald's employees, handpicked by management, is meeting at City Club Hotel in Vienna from September 9 to 11 to rubber-stamp a management document establishing the 'ECG'. In contrast to the intent of the Directive, which seeks to provide a platform for employees to defend their interests in transnational companies with European operations, the 'ECG' will serve management purposes exclusively. McDonald's management will unilaterally determine the agenda and will entirely control the meeting. The only item for discussion will be how to advance the company's interests. Trade unions, as independent organisations of employee interests, are excluded.

The IUF meeting condemned the 'ECG' as the most recent in history of management manoeuvres to avoid conceding basic rights to its global workforce. Rather than establishing the right of employees to information and consultation, the 'ECG' is a transmission belt for company policy and a shield against genuine employee representation. As such, it is a transparent public relations gimmick and an insult to the intelligence of its employees and of the public.

Over 1.5 million employees work for McDonald's worldwide, where conditions characterised by hard work, low pay, an unsafe work environment, no gauranteed hours and no unions or employee rights are widely known as 'McJobs'. McDonald's workers in most countries are routinely fired for advocating union organisation. Union representation exists in only a very small number of the approximately 150 countries where the company operates, and has only been achieved against the bitter resistance of McDonald's management.

The Internaitonal Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) is an internaitonal trade union federation composed of 322 trade unions in 107 countries representing a combined membership of 2.6 million members. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

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