15 Aug

Low paid workers organised in Unite Union are suing Burger King New Zealand for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unite National Director Mike Treen says that the fast food giant is “carrying out an anti-union campaign to cover up the worst examples of exploitation of vulnerable young and migrant workers that exist at a major employer in this country.”

Unite claims that Burger King has been employing a majority of migrant workers in both management and crew positions so they can exploit them without complaint.

“Many of these workers feel forced to work double shifts, continuous graveyard shifts or even unpaid to keep their jobs or maybe be promoted to a manager’s position so they can get a work visa. ” said Mike Treen

“We have many examples of managers bullying and shouting at staff. BK is the only fast food employer where over three quarters of the staff remain on the minimum wage no matter how long they have worked for the company. We have cases of crew on $13.50 an hour despite working for the company for 15 years.”

Last year the company was taken over by the private equity firm called the Blackstone Group. The union claims that this company has a reputation for its principals being engaged in right wing anti-union political campaigns in the USA. Burger King have also engaged the services of Teesdale Loof – a management advisory company that Unite Union says has a history of anti-union activities in New Zealand. “Their senior partner Tony Teesdale has boasted to Union officials that he played a central role in drafting the Employment Contracts Act and eliminating penal rates in many industries – including the fast food industry,” claimed Mike Treen.

This year Unite was successful in reintroducing overtime rates in their Collective Agreement with Restaurant Brands, who own KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks. Mike Treen said that Burger King desperately resisted signing a Collective Agreement with Unite and were the last major fast food company to do so. “They have always actively discouraged staff from joining and because of that fact been successful in keeping their wages below those of their competitors,” he said.

“This year Burger King launched a coordinated national campaign to force hundreds of union members to resign from the union. Managers had targets for membership reduction and were badgered into compliance if they didn’t meet them. Crew were told that if they didn’t resign they would never be made managers. Workers who resisted the pressure had their hours cut or were simply bullied.

“They want to get rid of the union at BK because they don’t want anyone to get in the way of their exploitation of these young and vulnerable workers,” Mike Treen said.

The union application to the Employment Relations Authority calls the campaign to force members to resign a “deliberate, serious, coordinated, self-serving and sustained” breach of Burger King’s good faith obligations under the law.

The workers and the union are seeking penalties against the company as well as individual managers and area managers for each breach of workers’ employment rights that has occurred.

One Unite Union member at BK was also allegedly assaulted this week by her manager and the company has refused to hand over the video of the alleged assault.

Unite Union national Director Mike Treen is calling on all people who “value basic human rights and fair treatment to send a message to BK to end their anti-union campaign and respect their workers rights to organise to improve their situation. We will not stop until this culture of bullying is brought to an end once and for all” he said.


  • Unite Union newsletter detailing problems workers are having with the company.

Unite officials available for comment
Joe Carolan – Unite Fast Food Workers Organiser – 029 445 5702
Mike Treen, National Director, 09 215 3392 / 029 5254744

Burger King News August 2012 V3.pdf



  1. Toni Joa August 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Disgusting, and Third World……WTF? After living in the US for the past 25 years (and yes, I once worked at BK in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, during one of the lowest times in my life), I am disgusted with the Company and the depths they have fallen to. If BK wants to be back on top, then produce the highest quality, and treat your employees with the respect they deserve. If you can’t manage better than minimum wage, then perhaps your product is less than desired. Either that, or your CEO’s are bottom-feeders, who could not put a Whopper together if they tried.

  2. Parveen Kumar August 16, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    I worked in Burger king, Swanson Street, Auckland City on 1 January2012, from 00:20am to 7 am. As this was public holiday . They had to give me pay n half but I got answer that they changed public holiday to Tuesday 3 January , 2012. As Sunday is not working day as per New Zealand holiday act . But Sunday is normal working day for us as our restaurant opens on 7 days in week. They don’t give us extra money to us if we work on Sunday.To get pay n half I had to work 3 Sunday’s in last month but they give us random shift in roster then how can we work continuously on Sunday’s . If this was the condition then they should tell us before so we could enjoy 31 night celebration. Burger king is cheater.

    After big Fight with Burger King with help of Unite union i got my money($90) from Burger king.

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