witness statement

name: Simon Gibney
section: Employment
for: The Defence
experience: McDonald's Floor Manager:

    Colchester, June '84 - Nov '87;

    Milton Keynes, Nov - Dec 1987


The witness, having worked for McDonald's since the age of sixteen, had advanced rapidly through the Colchester branch. A keen and able worker, the witness attained the position of Floor Manager at the age of 18, a number of years ahead the normal entry point. In recognition of his work he was promoted onto the management training program on his 20th birthday but required to transfer to the Milton Keynes branch. The ensuing details serve to give light to the reasons why, one month after joining this store, he left without notice.

The witness provides detailed accounts of the working environment at this branch and instances of management failure.


Simon Gibney currently co-owns a transport business based in Colchester. Previous to this he was employed by McDonald's at the Colchester and later the Milton Keynes branch. He left McDonald's as a Floor Manager and on the Trainee Management program. He was considered a dedicated and bright worker, perfect management material.

Full cv:
(not available for this witness)

full statement:

Early Promise and Dedication

I worked at the Colchester High Street store between June 1984 and November 1987, and at the Milton Keynes store between November 1987 and December 1987. I started as a 16 year old school leaver, working my way through the crew member positions. and at the age of 18 became a Floor Manager. Usually a Floor manager just runs an area of the store, for example the kitchen. I however was a shift running floor manager, which means I was often the manager responsible for the whole store regularly, with no other managers present. Because I was under 21 I was unable to progress into salaried management, but my duties were just the same as a second assistant manager. I was trained to do things like the crew scheduling, and the weekly paperwork, which were meant to be done by salaried managers only.

Because of my willingness and ability, I was promoted to the salaried management training program on my 20th birthday, a year earlier than is normal. This is not unheard of for someone who has worked from the age of 16, but at the time it was considered quite an honour, which is an indication that I was well thought of by my superiors.

A condition of my being promoted to salaried management was that I was transferred to the Milton Keynes store in late November 1987. I was so badly treated there that I left the Company without giving any notice on December 24th 1987.

In this statement I will write about the following subjects:

At McDonalds, everything has a target, whether it be the amount of milk-shakes sold per gallon of shake mix used, or the amount of cola drinks sold per litre of cola syrup used, the amount of burgers sold per box of burgers used, the number of portions of chips sold per kilo used the monetary amount of cleaning materials used as a percentage of the takings, even small things like the amount of sauces used per portion of chicken McNuggets sold, or the amount of ketchup used per burger sold, and so on. These targets were set by managers above store level.

The Colchoster store was set specific targets by the area supervisor,who was a man called Frank Stanton. It was plain to see that he was a highly ambitious man, who wanted to get on rapidly in the company. He lived for McDonalds.

In order to improve the yield performance of the Colchester store, even though they were considered totally acceptable, he instructed the store manager, Mark Davis, to water down drinks syrups, ketchup, mustard, milkshake mix, use less lettuce in the burgers, cut the cheese slices into two pieces, one roughly half the size of the other, and to use the larger piece in the cheeseburgers, which should have had a whole slice, and the smaller piece in the filet of fish, which should have had half a slice, make the staff squeeze the frie cartons when filling them and so on.

Mark Davis held a managers meeting and instructed us to carry out Stantons orders whatever our opinion of them was. All this was at the expense of quality that McDonalds supposedly valued so much. Undoubtedly Stanton's superiors knew from the high yields reported to them in the weekly and monthly paperwork that the customers were being ripped off, yet Stanton was promoted rapidly to a higher management position.

Within a month of the Colchester store opening in June 1984, the store manager, Martin Holloway, decided that the crew room was being left too messy by the crew. In order to solve the problem he decided to lock the room so it could not be used. The crew werc expected to take their breaks outside of the building. This caused ill feeling amongst the crew, and as a form of protest the "McDonalds Freedom Fighters" were born. This was a light-hearted group of crew who decided to get the crew room re-opened by actions such as joking with the management about a go slow. I also went to the citizens advice bureau with another crew member called Mark, I cannot remember his surname, and asked them if McDonalds were entitled to close the room. On returning to the store we informed the first assistant manager, Mark Davis of our visit, and asked him to mention it to the manager, Martin Holloway, without mentioning our names.

"You've had your fun...." Within an hour, the crew room was reopened, and the people that the management considered to be the ringleaders of "MFF" summoned to the training room. The five I remember were Robert Pilgrim, Phil Claydon,Julian Keogh, Paul Jackson and Omid Shafibeik. After the meeting Robert Pilgrim told the crew in the crow room that Mark Davis had said something to the effcct of "You've had your fun, now lets stop this McDonalds Freedom Fighters thing before it gets out of hand." The "MFF" was really a bit of fun, for instance, we had a secret handshake like the Masons, and would stop talking if a supposed management mole entered the crewroom. It surprised everyone that the management took it so seriously, and took such firm steps to end its existence.

For a period of about 3 months I was responsible for the staff schedule. To do the schedule you were given a specific number of hours to allot per week. These hours were then allotted to each hour of the day like this.

Friday Saturday

7:00 - 8:00

8:00 - 9:00

9:00 -10:00

10:00- 11:00

12:00 - 13:00

13:00 - 14:00

14:00 - 15:00

15:00 - 16:00

16:00 - 17:00

17:00 - 18:00

18:00 - 19:00

19:00 - 20:00

20:00 - 21:00

21:00 - 22:00

22:00 - 11:00

23:00 - 24:00

24:00 - CLOSE

7am - 8am 3 5 8am - 9am 5 8 9am - 10am 8 14 10am - 11am 12 20 11am - 12midday 16 26 12midday - 1pm 16 32 1pm - 2pm 14 32 2pm - 3pm 12 30 3pm - 4pm 11 24 4pm - 5pm 10 20 5pm - 6pm 10 20 6pm - 7pm 10 18 7pm - 8pm 10 16 8pm - 9pm 10 12 9pm - 10pm 10 12 10pm - 11pm 8 12 11pm - 12midnight 8 12 12midnight - close 4 5 The day columns indicate the staff level between the hours in the left column, this was calculated by looking at the day's projected takings (usually by looking at a previous weeks, months, years till takings hourly breakdown).

The total hours used was always below the allowed labour rate of around 15%. This labour rate was the key. For example, if you take the Saturday in the chart above you will see that there are 32 people working over the peak lunch time hours. If the takings were lower than had been forecast people would be asked if they wanted to go home. If not enough people obliged, reasons would be given for sending people home, for example, not using the correct procedures on a grill, or hair too long. People arriving for their shifts would be sent home before even starting work for reasons like a creased uniform, or being unshaven.

If however the store was as busy or busier than had been forecast, people arriving for work would be allowed to work whatever their appearance, and those already at work would be pressured into staying on with either the threat of a cut in hours the following week, or by saying their work area was in an unsatisfactorv state of cleanliness until the store was quiet. Looking back now, I find it alarming that the labour rate was the only thing taken into account when setting staffing levels, safety played absolutely no part. In fact, inexperienced staff members were regularly left on potentially dangerous equipment by themselves for the sake of maintaining a low labour rate.

Staff Manipulation

To do the schedule you had to allot shifts to the staff taking in to account their availability. On a staff members application form there was a box in which the applicant would write the hours they were available between on each day of the week. The favoured staff were the more flexible ones, so they would get a better share of hours than someone who was only willing to work from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday say. If someone was considered not flexible enough they were often penalised. An example of this is as follows:

Sally Kane was a part time worker studying at the Sixth Form College in Colchester. On her application form she stated that she could not work on Sundays. This was not convenient to the store, so to rectify the problem she was scheduled 2 hours per week, the object being to make her short of money, after 3 weeks of this she agreed to work on Sundays. This is the kind of strategy I was trained to use by the salaried managers.

The amount of hours given to individual staff members varied enormously. For example, during the school holidays when the store was busy a full time worker could do 60 to 70 hours per week, particularly if the store was understaffed. Then the school holidays ended, and the store became quiet, the same worker could do as little as 25 hours per week. Nobody's hours were guaranteed, the amount of hours scheduled depended entirely on the labour rate percentage of the stores takings. If the store was understaffed the labour rate could drop by more than a third - this would be considered excellent by the area supervisor, he would be considered more highly by his superiors the lower the labour rate was for the day, or week or month.

When I was under 18 I regularly worked past midnight. You were told to clock out at midnight, and written by the side of that day on your clock card would be someting like "+ X hours bonus" or just "plus X hours".

You were asked to stay on, if you said no however you were threatened with a cut of hours the next week, or given nasty jobs like cleaning the toilets, scrubbing floors etc. On no occasion was a taxi paid for me, even if I had worked until 6am. If you had no money you had to walk home after a shift of perhaps 18 hours.

Under 18 year old males working past midnight was the norm. In my entire 3 years at McDonalds, in all the stores I worked, I doubt there was an under 18 year old full-timer who never worked past midnight.

On 2 occasions at the Colchester store the drains were blocked due to shortening (cooking fat similar to lard) being poured down the sinks when no waste containers were available.

The result was that sewage would rise through the drains in the kitchen area to a depth in excess of 2 inches. The store manager would not close the store because he would be reprimanded by his superiors for a high labour rate, the sewage was just mopped out of the customers' view for perhaps 2 hours while Dynorod unblocked the drain.

In my entire time with McDonalds, I did not receive any overtime payments, neither did I ever witness them being paid to anyone else. If any hourly paid worker asked about overtime pay s/he was told by the management that "You don't have to pay overtime pay by law any more". This was accepted as the truth.

Burns were commonplace at McDonalds, and occasionally they were serious enough to warrant hospital attention. An example is as follows:

Vicky Golding was a part-time staff member whilst studying at the Colchester Institute. She was working on a grill during a busy lunch time period, and someone was mopping the floor by her feet, this caused her to slip forwards towards the grill, both forearms landing firmly on the grill's 350íC metal surface.

She was taken to hospital in a taxi, and treated for burns on both forearms roughly 7 inches by 2 inches.

Vicky was due to go on a foreign holiday in the next few days, and was told by the hospital that she should stay out of the sun, she discussed some sort of compensation with the store manager Ray Coton, but was persuaded against it by the payment of some sort of bonus as "hush money".

The period of time spent cleaning up after the store had closed was called a "close". If you were scheduled for a close you would expect this to take around 1.5 hours. If the store had a visit from anyone above area supervisor level there was what was called an all night close.

Without any notice, anyone who was scheduled for a close would have to work all night.

There was no choice in the matter, even if you were on a 12midday to close shift; which meant you could do a shift of 18 hours and be expected back at work 5 hours later.

This was obviously inconvenient to the majority of staff, but if you complained you would be threatened with a cut in hours, or disciplinary action.

supplementary statement:

Handwritten fax from Dave Morris 24/10/1995:

Following my first meeting with Simon Gibney tonight, here are a few extra points he wishes to make, to add to his Statement, which may go beyond explanations, detail or embellishment:

date signed: July 15, 1993
status: Appeared in court
references: Not applicable/ available
exhibits: Not applicable/ available

transcripts of court appearances:

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