Last week in Paris and Grenoble, Management Researchers Tony Royle and Vincent Pasquier held two conferences organized by ReAct and the Pouvoir d’Agir association (Power to Act) on the McDonald’s system, as the leader of its sector and the world’s second largest employer.
Citizens, activists, union representatives, McDonald’s employees and students came together to discuss issues related to the multinational’s situation with the researchers.
Tony Royle, York University Professor, writer, and author of the book Working for McDonald’s in Europe began the conference by presenting his research into the structure of McDonald’s in Europe. He discussed the organization of McDonald’s and its franchises, the managerial differences between Europe and the United States, and their union organizations.
The presentation drew attention to the very clear correlation between poor working conditions for employees and the company’s constant tax evasion, illustrated by several scandals. If the McDonald’s restaurants in the Philippines win the prize of absolute worst working conditions in the world, Europe is not so far from their extremes: pervasive discrimination, abuse of migrants in Italy, electronic tampering of work hours, lack of material and security, routinely putting workers in dangerous situations, let alone the work hours that go unpaid – and the list goes on.
Despite this situation, the rate of union organizing remains weak, with less than 1% of employees belonging to a union in France. But if anti-union culture is reinforced by McDonald’s management team, employees will continue to organize and fight for their rights throughout the entire world. They will be strengthened by campaigns like “Fight for $15”, which has continued to gain momentum since its formation in the U.S. in 2012.
Conference in Paris, at the SYNDEX Office
This presentation was followed by a debate with Vincent Pasquier, Management Researcher for SYNDEX and specialist of new forms of organization for the McDonald’s system in Europe. This debate led to an exchange on how this system is based on profit maximization at any cost, and also on the organization of counter-balancing powers and the means for fighting against these forms of exploitation.