witness statement

name: Andrew Cranna
section: Employment
for: The Defence
experience: McDonald's Managerial posts, West Ealing, 1984 - 1986


I left McDonald's because I just could not take the job seriously. In order to succeed, one had to "live McDonald's" and be prepared to devote yourself to nothing else. This, combined with the pressure, hours and money made me feel that it was just not worth it. McDonald's had ridiculous expectations of their staff for the amount of money that they actually earned.


Worked at the West Ealing McDonald's store between June/July 1984 and June/July 1986. Joined as a trainee manager at the age of 28, then second Assistant manager at that store. After leaving in June/July 1985, went to work for Olympic Staff.

Full cv:
(not available for this witness)

full statement:


I worked at the West Ealing McDonald store between June/July 1984 and June/July 1986. I joined as a trainee manager at the age of 28 (going on 29) I was a second Assistant Manager at that store. After leaving in June/July 1985, I went to work for Olympic Staff.


There was a vast difference between what I was told on McDonalds training courses about how to treat people (i.e. what I was told at "Hamburger University") and what actually happened on the floor of the store. At "Hamburger University" I was taught all the correct procedures. Everything was very much above board and Trainee Managers were trained in the art of employee management as a two way relationship.

For example I was taught about motivation and psychology, how to get the best out of the staff and the importance of treating them well. Once I got to the store I was amazed by how different it was. In actual practice it was not a two way relationship at all, it was all very much "just do as I say".

The single rap session which took place in my store during the time that I was there was a good example of this divergence between theory and reality. In theory I had been told that the 'rap' system was a system by which the employees could air their grievances with Management. In practice, what actually happened was that the employees were more reluctant to go to the session at all. The rap session was conducted by an Area Manager from another area. The idea behind this was supposedly to induce employees to feel that there was some independence in this complaints procedure. However, there was a wide-spread fear that anything said at the 'rap' session would get straight back to the Management of the store with resulting recriminations. In the end, so few people were willing to attend the meeting that the management had to actually pick people and tell them to attend.

At Hamburger University Trainee Managers were told that they were supposed to treat crew how they themselves would want to be treated. Trainee Managers were also given training to enable them to handle the store paperwork.

All the training information used by McDonalds came out of one book, the Training Manual, which was basically the McDonald's bible of all the rules and regulations. It is a very large book, about the size of a telephone directory. McDonald's Managers were supposed to know everything that was in it. Copies of the Manual were very tightly guarded.

McDonald's made it very clear to all employees, including myself, that the whole organisation was very closed to the press. I was told that as a general rule, no employees were to talk to the Press unless authorised.

The work was bound to be greasy and high pressure because it was fast food work. Most people realise this when they first join McDonald's. They realise it is the sort of job where there is no room for slackers.

Working To Targets

Every evening careful calculations were done in order to work out manning levels. This was done by the following method. The tills in a McDonalds store can print out at any given moment in time the amount of money that has been taken during that day or since the last print out. It was therefore possible to get an analysis from each till of how much money was taken every hour.

According to the Training Manual, the store Manager was supposed to obtain such a print out once every hour. By knowing the number of staff that were employed each hour, it was possible to work out the takings per head per hour. There was an optimum figure for such takings per hand per hour, which meant that the store was running with exactly the right number of staff for that particular hour. If the actual figure was higher than the optimum target figure then the store was understaffed and more staff ought to be taken on. If the level was below the optimum number the store was over-staffed during that hour and the levels had to be pruned. The effect of these calculations was that the Manager would be able to predict for each hour of the week how many staff he would need and could therefore trim very finely his manning levels to suit profitability.

I cannot remember what the optimum figure was for my store. When the store was operating at the so-called optimum staffing level, the staff were generally pretty pushed and the pressure was fairly high.

If a store was found to be running with staff costs which were too high, the Store Manager's would get into trouble with the Area Manager and also his superior, the Area supervisor.

Each store was given a target for running costs per week. If there was no increase in this figure without a proportionate increase in takings, then the managers would be in trouble. There was therefore a great deal of pressure on them to keep expenses within their targets. There was a specific weekly target ratio relating to staff salaries as a proportion of takings.

So far as I was aware, there was no official McDonalds rule which prevented any employee of the company from joining a union.

If anybody had joined a Union and had kept completely quiet about the fact, I believe they would have been left alone. Even if Management were aware that a person was a member of a Union, they would not necessarily dismiss that person so long as he/she remained 100% dormant. However, a Union member who became active in any way would not last long at all. For example, if that member started to try and recruit other crew members into the union or started trying to organise employees in some way that, was not in the interest of management he/she would most likely find his/her employment at McDonalds short-lived.

I think it is fair to say that Unions were an 'unspoken taboo'. McDonald's would never admit to the fact that unions were taboo, in fact they publicly state that they allow their employees to be members of a union. However, the reality behind this is very different and the system operates in such a way that any active member of a union will not be tolerated. The system will simply not support crew members who adopt a position contrary to management.

Most of the crew in store were generally made to feel as if they were fully expendable. According to the theory of McDonalds training, if a crew member was not doing what he/she should, Management were supposed to file a report, give a warning or discipline the member of staff. This process was meant to be carried out in private, the crew member having been taken off the floor into the Manager's office and the misdemeanour discussed with him/her away from the rest of the crew.

In fact, the reality was that an errant crew member would just be given repeated toilet duty , he/she would be shouted out in front of the crew and humiliated publicly. Invariably, if a crew member answered back in these circumstances, he/she was sent home immediately and were obviously not paid for the hours that were not worked.

Some employees who were sent home in this way just did not come back, although some did. In my experience, very few crew members were actually sacked in accordance with the proper disciplinary procedures, which were lengthy and which provided for several stages of discipline before sacking. Most employees just got too fed up with the treatment they were getting and left. I wish to stress that the training theory of McDonalds Management was actually very good. It was a useful training in itself. However, as I have stated above, there was a vast difference between the theory and the practice.

I left McDonald's because I just could not take the job seriously. In order to succeed, one had to "live McDonald's" and be prepared to devote yourself to nothing else. This, combined with the pressure, hours and money made me feel that it was just not worth it. McDonald's had ridiculous expectations of their staff for the amount of money that they actually earned.

date signed: 27th July, 1993
status: Appeared in court
references: Not applicable/ available

exhibits: Not applicable/ available

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