Mute point: Protesters hold a silent demonstration outside Burger King Blenheim

28 Aug

Mute point: Protesters hold a silent demonstration outside Burger King Blenheim on Saturday Small Protest Turnout (Marlborough Express) BY ROBIN RAYMOND A small group of Blenheim Burger King staff protested outside the fast-food chain on Saturday, part of national action by Unite Union protesting what it claims are anti-union measures by the company. Four people stood outside the store on Saturday afternoon wearing duct tape over their mouths and handing out leaflets to customers. Unite Union Burger King Blenheim delegate Liam Watchman indicated the protest drew a mixed response from the public, but was unable to answer other questions because of the duct tape over his mouth. Mr Watchman did not return calls later from the Marlborough Express. He did provide a statement about the protest. It claimed Burger King was seeking an injunction to stop union members speaking to the media. The statement also claimed workers at Burger King were the lowest paid fast-food workers in the country, and that migrant workers on bonded labour schemes with the company were afraid to speak out in case the company revoked its sponsorship of their work visas. The union has complained to the Employment Relations Authority about what it describes as anti-union activities by Burger King. However, Burger King marketing manager Rachael Allison said Unite had broken an agreement over the process for dealing with complaints against the company and it wanted the opportunity to sit down and discuss any complaints with the union. Despite the union’s public statements, there was no mention of “exploitation” or “abuse” in the proceedings Unite filed against the company on Tuesday, she said. COMMENTS Dear Editor, How proud I was, as an ex-Marlbarian, to read your article about the four Unite Union members protesting against the corporate anti-union behavior of Burger King. Especially in little old conservative Blenheim! It must really t ake some guts for these young workers to stand up and fight for what they know is right. Its so easy to simply pander to the common belief of the day which says “Just be thankful that you have a job and don’t complain”. There may only have been four of them there on Saturday, but some of the biggest changes in history have started out with only a few people. Kia Kaha! In Solidarity Chris Rigby


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