It seems that the problem of McDonald’s offering discounts for Police is long standing. The company was asked to stop it by police head office in 2002 and 2007 but seemed to have ultimately ignored the requests.
In 2002 two police officers forced an 18-year old McDonald’s worker to give them a discount when the company had been asked to stop the discounts. The worker had to pay the difference from his own wages.
The report went as follows:
Police officials have expressed concern that the ability of local police officers to buy burgers half-price from McDonald’s outlets could be seen as corrupt.
As part of a "police anti-corruption strategy", the force’s headquarters has now asked the US-based fastfood giant to stop offering large discounts to police officers. Spokeswoman Sarah Martin explained that the request was about preserving police integrity.
The move was made after the Police Complaints Authority received a complaint that two police officers refused to pay the full price at a McDonald’s in Nelson, causing the 18-year-old cashier to make up the difference out of his wages.
Many McDonald’s franchises are refusing to honour the request however, despite receiving a letter from the company’s headquarters advising that they sell the burgers to police officers at their full price.
Bryce Randell, managers of the McDonald’s at Wellington’s Manners Mall, told Stuff that his staff still give police the discount: "It’s just to attract police around this area, because we do get a few problems around Manners Mall, especially late at night."
It seems that attempt failed to stop the practice because of resistance from franchisees and police officers.
Then again in 2007 police head office asked McDonald’s to stop offering discounts.
According to the February 11, 2007, NZ Herald “Internal police regulations clearly state that sworn police staff are not allowed to accept ‘a discount on any goods or services where that discount is offered because that person is a member of police’.”
The Herald continued:
The national manager of professional standards, Superintendent Stu Wildon, said he would be alerting all district commanders to the policy and demanding greater enforcement. He said he was unaware of the prevalence of fast food discounts for police, and feared the publicity would cause damage to the force’s reputation.
“The soliciting and receipt of gratuities and rewards certainly is perceived by some as corruption and that is one of the reasons we need to be pro-active in managing and investigating it," Wildon said.
He said it was important to note that officers are not negotiating the discounts but that they are offered to police by businesses. Police rules say officers are allowed to receive calendars, diaries and notebooks, pens, ties, cufflinks, hats, badges, paperweights and "other items of little intrinsic value”.
Some people have questioned whether Unite should have challenged the Police discounts at McDonald’s during our recent dispute.
We raised the issue because of what appeared to us as a bias towards the company in the policing methods during pickets outside McDonald’s stores in Auckland. We thought it inappropriate for the company to offer discounts and for the police to accept them – especially in the middle of a dispute where police are being called by the company to "protect" their stores. Members had also complained because some franchisees offered less than the usual 50% and they would get hassled to increase the discount. We wrote to both the company and the police commissioner to ask for the discounts to be ended.
In the end the commissioner of police Peter Marshall said it was wrong for police to expect or demand discounts just because they are police officers.
His message was unambiguous as the following report makes clear:
Commissioner Peter Marshall was responding to publicity this week about officers receiving healthy discounts from the likes of McDonald’s and Subway when in uniform, saying police reputation was too important to be compromised by such perks.
Officers accepting discounted food could be subject to code of conduct investigations, he said.
Mr Marshall said police policy about gratuities should be well known and that police must not accept gifts for simply doing a good job.
"It is totally inappropriate for a police officer in uniform to consider receiving discounted food from any outlet," he said.
"In nearly 41 years of service I have never placed myself in that position, a position that cheapens the standing of New Zealand Police.
"If you are standing at a counter in uniform and you are heard and seen to get a discount – what sort of message does that give to the public?"
Retailers simply wanted to attract police to their premises and some would say it was their international policy to give discounts to emergency services personnel, he said.
"I don’t care. New Zealand Police officers should pay full price or walk away – it is as simple as that."
Given the failure to stop the practice in 2002 and 2007 it will be interesting to see if this commissioner can get the company to stop offering the discount and the cops to stop demanding them.
Unite has written to the company to seek a reassurance that the discount will end and our members won’t be put into any more difficult situations with different policies being followed by different franchisees. We have suggested that the money saved from giving 11000 police a 50% discount could be given to their own staff in the form of a free meal on shift – a right most other workers have in the industry.
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