Protester had two options: Go over or under car

By Hamish McNeilly

Unite Union members protest in what they called a ''McStrike'' outside the North Dunedin branch of McDonald's. Photo / Gerard O'Brien
Unite Union members protest in what they called a ''McStrike'' outside the North Dunedin branch of McDonald's. Photo / Gerard O'Brien

A protester who was hit by a motorist in Dunedin while blocking a McDonald's drive-in claims he was faced with two options - "go under his vehicle, or go over it".

The incident occurred outside the Dunedin North McDonald's outlet on Sunday afternoon, when a dozen placard waving Unite Union members blocked motorists from using the drive-in.

Rob Read, 23, said the "McStrike" protest aimed to highlight pay rates at the fast food giant but turned ugly when "this guy decided regardless that he was coming through us".

The Christchurch man, who was flanked by two other male protesters, warned the 4WD driver "if you go through us you are breaking the law and we will have you arrested for it".

But when the driver drove up a ramp near the protesters "I got lifted off my feet and put on his bonnet and the bull bars of his truck", he said.

"What was going through my mind was we have one of two options here - go under his vehicle, or go over it."

"We were still calling out to him 'you can't do this, this is illegal what you are doing', when he stopped at the drive through and basically threw me back."

Mr Read said he was carried for 5m before he slid to the side of the vehicle to avoid being run over.

The driver was yelling during the altercation, but then proceeded to place his order at the drive-in window before leaving.

"He must have been well and truly hungry to be doing that."

Mr Read was left winded from the incident, while another protester, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, received injuries to his knee and required medical treatment.

Police were called to the scene, and inquiries into the incident were continuing.

McDonald's issued a statement about the incident yesterday.

"The protesters blocked the vehicle entrance to the restaurant, creating health and safety concerns for both themselves and customers, as cars attempting to enter the restaurant were faced with either running into protesters or reversing back into oncoming traffic.

"This resulted in a minor car accident. We do not feel it is appropriate to comment on the allegation that a customer's vehicle hit protesters, as this matter is now with police."

- Otago Daily Times

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