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(en) A Day In The Life - Resistance (AF Ireland)

From Al <klasbatalemo@yahoo.ie>
Date Tue, 17 Dec 2002 16:20:46 -0500 (EST)


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It?s 6:35am in the middle of a Scottish winter and you
wake up feeling like shite.  You?ve got the flu
aggravated by a hangover, the alarm clock?s been going
off at you for half an hour and you?ve twenty minutes
to get to work.  You rummage for an ugly synthetic
uniform that stinks of yesterday?s grease; it?s the
only one they ever gave you.  You?re just trying to do
your shoes up when you have to rush to the toilet and
spew up.  Fuck this, after a few minutes on the floor
you stagger to the phone and try to call in sick.

?McDonald's Restaurant, how can I help you??
?I?m sick, I cannae make it in today?
?No way, do you know how short we are? You?re due in
10 minutes, what sort of notice?? etc.
 
So you get there and walk past the slightly wet
tables, breathe the sterile stench of chemicals, the
sweaty stench of the staff room and soon the odious
mix of liquid ?egg?, sausage and fat.  Half-hearted
greetings and mutual commiserations are exchanged
amongst the staff -well those who know each other?s
names at least.  But nobody can alleviate the
oppressive atmosphere.  It gets busy, there?s a mass
of food on order, some wanker?s having a tantrum about
their fucking sausage and egg muffin or something and
some emotionally instable manager they?ve just grabbed
out of university is shouting at you and a 16 year old
who?s on their second day and has never been trained-
?hustle, hustle? in a desperate attempt to conceal her
own inadequacies.  Occasionally when you?re really
getting fucked she?ll chime in with some irrelevant
procedural dictat you can?t possibly follow as you try
to cope with an excessive workload and a bout of
diarrhoea. 
 
Later you?ll maybe get your unpaid break and the
cherished chance to sit down with your cardboard food
and a copy of the staff magazine McNews.  You can read
about how Ronald McDonald went to a kid?s fun fair and
how the company invests in people.  Fucking right they
do, the same way other companies invest in forests-
buy them, fuck them over, take what they can and leave
a burned out mess.
 
At last it?s over, another days done? ?Right I?m away?
?Wait just now, Jim?s getting a plaster, cut his hand
open, he?ll be back in a minute?
So you wait for Jim, and then ?wait just now, Shona
was due off at 3:00, I?ve got to cash her till up? and
you wait for Shona? Eventually you escape with a
meagre wage that won?t even last an evening in the pub
relieving the frustration and boredom the only way
that seems to work. 
 
This is McDonald's and whether you?ve worked there or
not, it probably sounds all too familiar.  McDonalds
has become as synonymous with crap jobs as it is with
hamburgers, and the McJobs phenomena has ramifications
that by now have affected most of us.
 
Is McDonalds really so bad?  Even compared to other
shitty capitalist employment ?opportunities? it is
despicable. It is totally degrading and dehumanising,
there is a ?procedure? for every tiny action to make
our role almost completely robotic. The pay is
infamously poor, bad enough, according to the high
court, to depress wages throughout the catering
sector. Management is frequently very autocratic; the
company likes to employ ex-military personnel because
they bring ?a sense of discipline?. There are no
overtime payments or any rights beyond those legally
constituted. Hours are often unsociable. The work is
sometimes relentless and employees are expected to
?hustle?- basically run about like fuck for 8 hours
(or 10, or 12...). Because of the pace of the work
cuts and burns are very common, most people who have
worked there for a few years will have at least one
permanent scar. We are bombarded with inane company
propaganda and are expected to comply with company
stipulated ?appearance requirements?. Theft of wages
(clock card entries being altered by managers to save
on labour expenses) is rife and is tolerated by the
company- widespread frauding of employees wages to
save the company money is NOT an offence that leads to
dismissal, taking a drink without permission
potentially is. Hours can be cut (completely) with
just 10 days notice (often, in practice, much less).
Even when your shift finishes, incredibly, you are not
free to go and are obliged to stay on should
management demand it, which they almost inevitably
will. The UK crew handbook states ?due to the nature
of our business, on occasions you may be asked to
continue working past your normal finishing time; you
will be released (sic) as soon as the need for your
services has past.? You can?t even go to the toilet
with out first obtaining permission. If a shift is
unexpectedly quiet and staff are not totally rushed
then some staff will be told to go home, if they
insist on working their full shift they will often be
assigned the most unpleasant cleaning tasks to
encourage them to rethink. At other times every day
off will be disrupted by a phone call from a stressed,
sometimes even tearful, manager begging you to come in
and work. The obsessive cost cutting and incessant
prioritisation of profit has enormous human costs. 
 
And people are surprised that McDonalds Workers
Resistance (MWR) has proved so popular?  It?s been our
voice against our exploitation, it?s been how we?ve
vented our frustrations, how we?ve built lasting
friendships, explored new ideas and organised
internationally.  It may yet be how we increase our
wages and regain sovereignty over our own lives. 
McDonalds Workers Resistance is a loose network of
McDonalds employees, always flexible, dynamic and
unpredictable, we work together to strengthen the
position of workers in relation to our employer.
Unidentifiable and uncompromising, MWR is probably the
sexiest workplace rebellion ever started in a
Glaswegian McDonalds.  It emerged as a determined
response to the idiocy of our working lives. It's an
angry rebellion against boredom, exploitation, poverty
and discipline; it's a rebellion against the idiocy of
McDonalds and capitalism. 
 
We?ve produced a large website at mwr.org.uk and 2000
copies of both issues of our magazine ?McSues? as well
as various leaflets and stickers.  We?ve inspired and
participated in Direct Action at a number of
restaurants around the world.  We?ve built up an
international network and are in contact with a few
hundred supportive McDonalds workers around the world.
 We proposed and helped co-ordinate the first ever
international mobilisation by the McDonalds workforce
on October 16th.  Resistance by McWorkers on October
16 took many forms, ranging from drinking on the job
and stealing from the till, to sabotaging machinery
and property, to work slowdowns, to employee walkouts
and organized strikes for better working conditions.
In Milan, Italy, activists and McDonalds workers
together blockaded a McDonalds and had an impromptu
party as they "roamed the streets, accompanied by
music" and "tactically deployed" eggs. A Slovenian
radio station celebrated by broadcasting
anti-McDonalds programming all day while in France,
six McDonalds represented by the CNT-AIT union went on
strike. A strike and picket in Norfolk, England,
crippled a restaurant and other strikes were attempted
in London and New Zealand. The McDonalds in Reading,
England was spray-painted with a message saying,
"Closed due to strike" and Australian workers
sabotaged stock. Workers in Moscow refused to work for
a few hours and the ?Chicago Corps of the Paramilitary
Front for the Liberation of McDonalds Workers? blew up
a toaster while working, smashed lighting, and
destroyed a freezer. In Dallas, Texas, important
equipment was hidden and food was defrosted. A Dublin
McDonalds till paid for a staff drinking session.
Workers in England disabled equipment and superglued
the till locks. Toilets were cemented in Manchester
and mass resignations in Glasgow and Toronto left
authoritarian managers helpless as employees flung
their uniforms across the counter. Solidarity actions
and pickets were held around the world. 
 
But it?s not just about McDonalds; workers everywhere
are facing deteriorating conditions and the
frustration of sacrificing their lives to an idiotic
pursuit of wealth on behalf of those who already have
too much.  People say to us, ?if you don?t like it,
why don?t you quit?? but we know only too well that
there are many jobs as bad or even worse than
McDonalds.  Sure, we could quit and try Burger King,
KFC, GAP, a BT call centre, Wetherspoons, but none of
them would represent a great improvement. Some of us
have quit but others have chosen to stay and fight to
change things. None of us plan to work for McDonalds
forever, but at present the alternatives are also
shit. Over the last few years there has been a great
increase in ?McJobs?- low paid, unskilled, short-term
work in the service sector. If you don?t have many
qualifications, or if you can?t work full time, then
it can be difficult to avoid these jobs. One of the
reasons workplace exploitation continues is because we
are encouraged to think our frustration is a personal
issue- don?t like McDonalds? Quit and try Burger King.
Still shit? Quit and work in a pub. Don?t like that?
Try a call centre. Try another call centre or work in
an office... This can go on indefinitely until we
recognise collectively that our frustration is not a
personal issue, is not even a question of a particular
job, but is an effect of a social system that exists
in opposition to our pursuit of happiness. The problem
is not just McDonalds or even McJobs, we are against
the very idea of wage labour- of having to sell
yourself to survive in order to make other people
rich. All workers - tube drivers, fire fighters,
burger flippers, carers and the unemployed- should
organise to improve their conditions and take control
of their own lives.

More than anywhere in the world this spirit is evident
in Argentina as people struggle to survive in an
economically devastated country.  The Argentinean
popular rebellion is simultaneously a desperate
defensive reaction and the most inspiring and
optimistic uprising to happen for a long time.  So we
decided to participate in the international days of
solidarity in December.  Our actions will also be
about expressing our solidarity with the
anti-McDonalds political prisoners arrested at their
demonstration in Mexico on October 16th.  We Stand
Between Two Worlds...   one we do not recognise and
one which today exists only in our hearts.  In Mexico,
the world of capital and oppression, has imprisoned
and brutalised young protesters who dared to challenge
the McDonalds empire, but in Argentina we see glimpses
of a new world, if we look very closely we can see the
future.  Utopia is on the horizon: when we take two
steps, it takes two steps back.  We run towards it and
it moves further away. Strangely, the slower we go,
the closer we get, so on the 21st of December we?re
going to go slow as fuck!

The ?International McGo-slow as fuck? is the perfect
insubordinate activity- it?s less effort than a usual
shift!   It?s a fucking skive! Nobody hustles or does
anything quickly, it doesn?t matter how long the queue
gets- go slow as fuck!  We call on all McDonalds
workers to participate and to help make sure their
workmates go slow as fuck as well.  We are working on
leaflets and stickers to help publicise the McGo-slow
As Fuck in McDonalds restaurants.  Please contact us
ASAP and we can send them to you along with
information about the Argentinean rebellion- it will
inspire anyone with an imagination. 
One day the alarm clocks are going to ring and none of
us will need to get up and sell ourselves to the
profit machine.  The time thieves? crime spree will be
over.

The article above was written by a member of
McDonald?s Worker?s Resistance, contact them at: 
http://www.mwr.org.uk 
or write to:
MWR, PO Box 3828, Glasgow, G41 1YU, U.K.

******************************************************

>From the pages of Resistance#18, regular monthly
buletin of the Anarchist Federation (Ireland).

To subscribe to resistance electronically, send a
blank e-mail to:
ResistanceIreland-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

To distribute Resistance in your area, contact us at:

contact@afireland.cjb.net

http://www.afireland.cjb.net


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