witness statement

name: Kevin Harrison
section: Employment
for: The Defence
experience: McDonald's 2nd Asst Manager, Colchester & Ipswich, 1986 - 1987


The witness believes a 'them and us' attitude was fostered between crew and managers. Any relationships forged during the on-the-floor parts of a managers training were expected to be forgotten in favour of an authoritian approach. The witness believes there was very much a hidden agenda of exploitation of crew members wherever possible by all levels of management.


second assistant manager at McDonalds from 1986 to 1987

Full cv: (not available for this witness)

full statement:


I worked for McDonald's between September 1986 and September 1987. I was employed as a second assistant manager, training for 3 months at Colchester before being transferred to Ipswich. I left of my own free will because of mounting dissatisfaction with the job, the hours I worked and the company philosphy in general.

The following points represent situations which I was either directly involved in or witnessed at close hand, and although they happened mainly in the store where I spent most of my waking time, I have no reason to believe that they did not happen in other stores as to a large extent they are the product of the attitude of more senior managers.

How To Be A McManager

The percentage of labour cost in relation to takings was of paramount importance in East Anglia, and generally a mangement obsession. The figure considered acceptable was, I believe, 18% and various measures were employed to catch this.

In slack periods, the tendency was to 'ask' people if they wanted to go home. Sometimes people were instructed to go home. This was quite common.

Managers were encouraged to keep employees ignorant of their entitlement to overtime payments if more than 39 hours were worked, and in practise crew scheduling was done so that very few worked over 39 hours. This was in spite of complaints from full-time workers that their scheduled hours were too few (Ipswich store). In effect you acted as a wage-broker who could offer more hours to the crew member who were most compliant and accepting. Consequently a group of 'favourites' could emerge.

Discretionary bonuses were often awarded or approved by the store manager to the more obliging members, whilst the less-obliging were not awarded them. This was probably designed to create compliance (Ipswich store).

Crew members would often work an entire shift without a break (usually on Saturdays) and were sometimes allowed to leave early, but this was often not by choice; breaks were denied because of customer volume. Alternatively they might be allowed to take their break near the end of their shift, in spite of requesting it earlier. Sometimes they would be made to take it shortly after coming on a shift. It was ALWAYS at the manager's discretion.

Health and Safety Ignored

As regards Health and Safety, no shoes with non-slip soles were issued for use in the grill area where most accidents - or serious ones - could occur. Recommendations were made as to what should be worn, but checks were seldom if ever made of the suitability of shoes. The responsibility for safety was with the crew member.

The emptying of the shortening in the frying vats was not strictly supervised and was often done by crew members with little formal training. The minimum number of crew on the 'open' (early) shift meant supervision was not possible. Safety equipment was provided in the form of protective clothing, but this was not always worn in its entirety.

Harsh Management

My personal experience of dictatorial management concerns my move to the Ipswich store after qualifying. I was told I was going to move and my relocation expenses were not reimbursed. I was given no assistance in finding accomodation.

I was ill with a viral infection shortly after starting at Ipswich and had a few weeks off work. I sent in relevant doctors notes but because two, I believe, were delayed in the post and my illness was not believed by senior management my salary was suspended at one stage, causing me problems.

In general, a 'them and us' attitude was fostered between crew and managers. Any relationships forged during the on-the-floor parts of a managers training were expected to be forgotten in favour of an authoritian approach. I believe there was very much a hidden agenda of exploitation of crew members wherever possible by all levels of management.

Managerial Fraud

On occasions when the cash + or - for the week was considered outside acceptable limits orders would be rung through the tills apparently normally, then the items cancelled so that they did not show up on the product mix till readout. This had the effect of creating surplus money which went towards balancing the cash shortfall.

Example: Ring up 2x Big Mac, 2x reg. fries, 2x reg. McD cola giving total - take customer's money, give change, then items were cancelled from the till as apparent mistakes and the money taken would therefore show up as a cash surplus on that till.

This was always done by managers, operating various tills throughout a shift depending on how much money needed to be 'made'. Various tills would be used so that one massive surplus did not appear in one till. This system was used at Ipswich, although I believe other 'systems' (ie employee meals facitlity) could also be used and indeed were at other stores.

If anything else occurs to me I will send further details - no doubt further examples of bad practise have simply been forgotten by myself and others.

supplementary statement:

Additional points

I started working for McDonald's in September 1986 as a trainee manager at the Colchester store. After approx 3 months I became a 2nd Assistant and was transferred to the Ipswich store against my will. I worked approx 50-60 hours a week, which was one of the reasons why I left the company. I have worked late and all-night closes, including with Simon Gibney. These were more frequent at Colchester than at Ipswich. I can remember two all night closes at Colchester, one was before a visit from a Supervisor, and the other was before a grill competition where crew came from other stores to compete with the Colchester crew. I lived about 2 miles from the store but no taxi was provided for me after a late close. I can recall bonus payments being made to people who worked beyond their scheduled hours. They would be clocked out at a certain time, but would still work for a couple of hours. I can't remember if this was because they were under 18 or if it was to help lower the labour percentage for the period.

Re people being 'asked' to go home.

People understood that the only way to get on was to co-operate. They knew that if they refused they may not get the hours or shifts they wanted the next week. People would be put on the lobby if they didn't co-operate. I also witnessed occasions when people were told to go home because they were untidily dressed. This only ever happened when the store was quiet.


Breaks were generally not allowed between approx 12 - 3pm. People would start their shift at 11am, be sent on their break at 11.3Oam, and then have to work the rest of the afternoon until approx 8pm without a break. Or people'would not get their break until the end of their shift. Taking breaks at the beginning or end of the shift was generally very unpopular. Sometimes people were on the tills for 4 or so hours and were desperate and asking for a break. At the Ipswich store I can remember saying no to crew when they asked for their break. I was not in charge of the counter at Colchester. The situation with early or late breaks would generally happen every Saturday, and sometimes on other days, particularly on Friday evenings (people working 4 to close would be sent for breaks at 5pm).

Hauled over the coals

People were under pressure to finish their breaks early. 1 remember people being hauled over the coals when they were two or three minutes late back from a break. People would also be called back off their breaks who hadn't had their allotted time. I can remember going up to the crew room to call people down off their breaks at the Colchester store.

Costs Manipulated

I recall the figures for food costs being manipulated at the Ipswich store. The calibrations on the soft drink machines were set at less than the standard, (50 there would be less syrup per cup) I can remember doing this myself. There were customer complaints that the drinks were too weak (Cola, diet coke, orange, root beer) , and then we would turn the calibrations back a bit. Would see what level we could get.

date signed: July 22, 1993
status: Appeared in court
references: Not applicable/ available

exhibits: Not applicable/ available

transcripts of court appearances:

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