Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Saving the golden arches

Despite French distaste for McDonald’s, campaigners are trying to keep open a restaurant in one of the poorest suburbs in Marseille because ‘there’s nothing else’ there

AFP, MARSEILLE

Salim Grabsi, a member of a working class collective in the area called SQPM, agreed that the business had played a “social role” under its previous managers.

“Young girls and young boys who haven’t got internships, they end up here,” he explained. “When kids no longer have any interest in school, or they no longer want to go to school, to avoid them landing in drugs and all that, their first job is often at McDonald’s.”

HONORABLE ENDING?

At stake is the threatened closure of the restaurant by its current operator, a franchiser called Jean-Pierre Brochiero who owns the restaurant in a 50-50 joint venture with McDonald’s France.

He claims the site is loss-making — which the branch’s employees contest — and wants to sell it to a Tunisia-based company which would open an “Asian halal” food outlet targeting the local Muslim population.

The employees, who have been protesting for months, believe the takeover plan is a ruse to avoid paying them redundancy compensation and they have gone to court to prevent the transaction.

“As badly paid as they are, as bad as working conditions are at McDonald’s, their whole life is built around this job,” a lawyer representing staff said after a court hearing on Monday.

“The whole life of the neighborhood is built around this restaurant. McDonald’s needs to be aware of that and they need to come out of this honorably too.”

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