KFC, Pizza Hut, Carls Jr and Starbucks workers wenton strike across new Zealand on April 22 after negotiations broke down over a new collective agreement.
“Yesterday Restaurant Brands announced profits of $26 million and they have paid their CEO a million dollar bonus. Tomorrow the workers who actually make and sell their products have to go on strike to get a few cents above the minimum wage” said Unite National Secretary Gerard Hehir said on April 21.
“This is a stark example of the growing gap between rich and poor and Unite Union members at Restaurant Brands are taking action to close the gap a little bit. While Restaurant Brands have been paying huge bonuses and dividends and buying up large overseas, their workers are overworked and underpaid"
Restaurant Brands has rejected a very modest proposal from the union for a rise of 10 cents and hour each year over three years above the minimum wage movement for the lowest paid workers. This will take to take their pay to 30 cents an hour above the minimum wage by 2019.
The union also wants Shift Supervisors, skilled and experienced staff who are able to run stores on their own, to get increases over three years that will move them towards a Living Wage.
“These are not school kids. They are qualified and experienced workers who can run a store on their own: managing staff, managing a retail store and a food production facility. They deserve a Living Wage and Restaurant Brands can afford to pay them a Living Wage”
Shift Supervisors do get an additional allowance if they are running a store sole charge but the company admits that the opportunities for these shifts has reduced recently. Restaurant Brands has also made it clear they expect Supervisors to do nearly all their management tasks on their basic pay, not just when they are paid the extra allowance.
KFC Supervisor are also expected to train KFC cooks and to be able to do the cooks job if needed. Last year the company decided (without consulting the union) to pay cooks and extra $2.50 an hour allowance and the result is that the Supervisors, who are mostly women, end up being paid $1.80 an hour less than the cooks, who are mostly male, despite Supervisors being more qualified and having far more responsibilities.
“Unite doesn’t begrudge KFC cooks getting a pay-rise — they deserve a Living Wage as well, but it has highlighted just how underpaid the Shift Supervisors are. We think the new pay equity processes may apply and we are gathering information to begin that process."
Restaurant Brands has also refused to offer any redundancy payment for workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Currently workers are entitled to one weeks notice only. Their have been redundancies at Restaurant Brands (KFC Kaikohe was permanently closed in 2015) and, as recent earthquakes in Wellington have shown, workers can very suddenly find themselves out of a job.
The OECD recently told the government that New Zealand employers need to take more responsibility when they lay off their workers. Restaurant Brands
“It is inconceivable that Restaurant Brands CEO Russel Creedy would lose his job with just a week's notice - as high as his weekly pay is. Why do Restaurant Brands think it’s OK to sack their lowest paid workers with just one week's notice.”
Unite has very recently reached agreement with McDonalds that gives those workers 30 cents above the minimum wage in the next three years as well as Shift Supervisors a Living Wage and a Redundancy payment.
Other issues in dispute with Restaurant Brands are requiring existing workers to be offered new or changed shifts that become available, overtime on allowances, specific break times and a commitment to elected Health and Safety reps.
[Reposted from Unite.]