By Mike Treen, Unite National Director
Unite Union is accusing Burger King of repeatedly putting their workers lives at risk at its stores in the Hawkes Bay where management feel free to padlock fire escape doors.
This year we have intervened twice to get padlocks removed from a fire escape exit at Burger King’s Hasting’s store. This week we discover that it has also been happening at BK Napier.
On the 16 February 2012 a member from Hastings Burger King contacted the Unite Union office stating that the Restaurant Manager had padlocked the fire exit gate. This gate is part of a 2 metre fence and has a fire exit sign on it. It is the only exit from the store through the back. If there was a fire in the kitchen blocking the way to the front of the store there would be no way out of the
The union member was particularly concerned as there were pregnant staff who would not be able to scale the fence. He then contacted the Unite Union. Mike Treen, National Director of Unite, instantly rang Burger King Head office. The padlock was removed with Head office stating that it was a “misunderstanding.”
On the 2 August 2012 the same member again contacted Unite to say that the Hastings BK Manager had again padlocked the fire exit gate and told crew to “Jump the gate – this is no longer a fire exit”. An email was sent to Burger King Head Office, stating that a fence that has to be climbed is not a fire escape and that employees have the right to withdraw from work if health and safety is compromised. Burger King head office came back saying the issue had been addressed.
After this experience it is distressing to find that the same thing has been happening at Burger King Napier for years. The union will now be complaining to OSH and the fire department.