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McDonald's Anti-Union Activities

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
October 10th, 2002

Brussels (October 9, 2002) -- Today, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will meet with McDonalds' union activists from around the world to discuss the company's anti-union activities, and the truth behind McDonalds' so-called "people promise". The group of MEPs will include Theo Bouwman, President of the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

The experiences of McDonald's workers around the world seeking to form unions and works councils will be contrasted with the company's claim to being "the best employer in each community around the world".

"Just because corporations claim to be socially responsible doesn't mean that they actually are. The demonstrated hypocrisy of McDonald's in this respect makes it clear that companies shouldn't be allowed to dictate the rules on corporate social responsibility," commented Dwight Justice, a specialist on multinational companies at the ICFTU.

The attention of MEPs will also be drawn to the need to scrutinise the way in which large franchise operations can undermine workers' rights. McDonalds can often avoid dealing with unions because 80% of its restaurants are franchises and are considered to be independently owned. The strict terms under which McDonald's franchises must operate, however, effectively produce situations where McDonald's, and not the franchisees, seems to be dictating policy on working conditions and wages.

The MEPs will hear from the group, which includes Argentinean, Dutch, German, Italian, Philippine, Russian and US activists, about the company's union-busting activities around the world. Specifically, they will hear how McDonald's:

  • destroyed a union in Moscow, even after the authorities had forced the company to sign a collective agreement with it.

  • closed a restaurant in Germany in order to avoid dealing with a works council

  • misuses the law to prevent unions from being established in the Philippines

To draw attention to the issues to be raised in the meeting, these union activists will be leafleting McDonald's customers over lunchtime (13h00-14h30) at the Rue Neuve branch of McDonald's in Brussels about the multinational's treatment of workers around the world.

Link to the IUF report: McDonald's "Corporate Responsibility" a Blueprint for Union-Busting:
http://www.iuf.org.uk/cgi-bin/editorials/db.cgi?db=default&ww=1&uid=default&ID=47&view_records=1&en=1

Link to the ICFTU leaflet:
http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991216551&Language=EN

This initiative is organised by the Dutch trade union confederation (FNV) and the FNV Horecabond, in cooperation with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF).

The ICFTU represents 157 million workers in 225 affiliated organisations in 148 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 476 62 10 18.