McDonald’s gets serve from union

26 May

By Lyndy Laird
Northern Advocate

"At times customers have had a serve of bad language with their fast-food orders."

"At times customers have had a serve of bad language with their fast-food orders."

A union official claims child labour, workers paid in food vouchers and management threats are all in a day’s work for staff at McDonald’s in Kaikohe.

At times customers have had a serve of bad language with their fast-food orders, Unite Union campaign manager Gary Cranston says.

McDonald’s has declined to answer the specific allegations raised by the union, saying they were being raised as part of a collective employment agreement dispute.

The union is calling for a boycott of McDonald’s stores owned by the same franchise holder in Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Kaitaia.

Mr Cranston claimed that workers at the Kaikohe outlet had told him that a manager had sworn at staff and one worker had an orange juice thrown at her in front of others.

"The [Kaikohe] restaurant manager has her three kids working for her at the store," Mr Cranston said. "The youngest is only 12 years old. She is being paid in McDonald’s coupons."

When a staff union delegate raised that and other issues which she considered breached company policies she was allegedly threatened with disciplinary action that included her hours being cut, Mr Cranston said.

The franchise owner, Lynley Reid, told the Northern Advocate she could not comment about the serious allegations and referred inquiries to MacDonald’s Restaurants (NZ) Ltd.

A company spokesperson said the Kaikohe issues had been raised in the context of collective employment agreement negotiations which broke down a month ago.

"Unite have been active in the media lately, speaking about McDonald’s on a variety of issues," she said. "We are committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith with the union, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this point."

But Mr Cranston said the union was concerned about a "hornet’s nest of issues" at the Kaikohe store, including allegations of staff working in positions above their pay or training level, sexual harassment, racial discrimination and understaffing.

"I’ve never seen anything like it. It is just out of control and it all comes back on the franchisee for failing to provide her crew with a safe and harmonious workplace, as she is legally obliged to do."

Last Saturday officials and workers staged a protest outside the Kaikohe store and presented it with the union’s first "Worst Franchisee of the Year" award.

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4 Responses to “McDonald’s gets serve from union”

  1. Arron Dick May 26, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    As much as I hate McDonalds because of the way I was treated when I worked there, I have worked under Lynley Reid as the operations manager here in Dunedin and know her to be a very fair and very reasonable person.

    This article fails to fill in some gaps or it purposely glosses over them to demonize Lynley Reid.

    I would like to know, did the employee report the incident where a manager had sworn at staff or did the franchisee owner not know about it because it was covered up by a useless shift manager?

    Did the employee report the incident where she had orange juice thrown at her or go to the police to report an assault? Was it an innocent event even, joking between workmates, provoked or was done in plain malice – because that is exactly how this article makes it sound.

    Is the child labor claim consistent with the Wikipedia definition?:

    “Child labor refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.”

    Is this a case of a child being deprived of any of these things, or is it a young child being rewarded or even given “work experience”(which is usually done during school hours at high school, depriving them of an education is it not?) for doing light duties such as cleaning up tables?

    Certainly not taxing at all but something I would believe to be beneficial to a young adult’s development.

    I would believe this to be a situation where the child is waiting at McDonalds after school or the like, for their parent who may be working late or working on their day off, and instead of just sitting at a table bored out their tree, they have been given something to do with a fair reward.

    How old are the other children?

    Is it wrong to have her children get a taste of working, even in the same career as herself? She has certainly had a fair run at it:

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/24065/years-hard-work-rewarded

    • unitenews June 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

      Hello Scott,[if that is actually written by Scott] cheers for your comments.

      Lynley Reid had her chance to give her side of the story after being phoned for three days for comments on all these issues raised by the Northern Advocate. When the Advocate did eventually get in touch with her, she had nothing to say for herself beyond the standard company line; “We are committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith with the union, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this point.” The Northern Advocate had been provided with 17 pages of signed and handwritten statements from workers at Kaikohe McDonald’s.

      I suspect you may be part of a minority of people who may believe that spending the last few years of your childhood working for a multinational corporation, being paid in big macs would be “beneficial to a young adults development”. There are plenty of adults desperate for work in Kaikohe, yet the restaurant manager has employed a huge amount of her family at that store [beyond these three younger ones], with other existing workers missing out on potential work as a result.

      The incidents were reported to the union over the phone and in several signed statements.

      RE: How old are the other children?; The other children are around 15 years old, but there are other issues here, even more serious than the case of the 12 year old. There are some confidentiality issues here and Unite is not prepared to talk about it in public at this stage.

      It is not uncommon for companies like McDonald’s to publicly award management who make the big bucks for them whilst portraying them as some sort of fairytale rags to riches story. It gives other workers the impression that if they do the same, keep their mouths shut and work like dogs for the awful pay they get from McDonald’s that they too will eventually end up filthy rich off other peoples hard work. Its just PR.

      It is true that different workers may have very different experiences with particular managers. Favouritism isn’t something the union, or the law supports. Since this story broke, we have heard further negative reports about Lynley Reid’s “aggressive” management style from others who have worked under her and Unite Union has filed a personal grievance with the employment relations authority in relation to matters raised in the article.

  2. Arron Dick June 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    nice to see that my reply dated may 26th is still “awaiting moderation” i personally take this as a form of censorship, care to explain why you are not publishing my reply after this long period of time?

    • unitenews June 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

      It wasn’t censorship. The organiser involved was asked to put together a detailed response and has now done so. It has been posted with your original comment. As you will see the issues are many and ongoing and it wasn’t just Unite Union that was questioning her management techniques. Just because someone seems to be a ‘nice person’ doesn’t mean they are a good and fair manager of staff.

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