6 Jun

New Zealand will be the first of 30 countries that will be seeing protests against McDonald’s today in a global day of action over abuse and exploitation of migrant workers.

The Auckland action organised by Unite Union will be at 6pm outside the Balmoral McDonald’s store.

The protest was called by the National Guestworker Alliance in the US. The Alliance reports that cases of labor abuse at McDonald’s show the fast food giant’s failure to set even the most basic labor standards for any of the 1.8 million workers at its 34,000 restaurants around the world. McDonald’s sets standards for its franchise owners on trivial aspects of food presentation—while having no standards to protect the workers who generate $US27.6 billion in annual revenue for the corporation.

New Zealand is one of the only places in the world to have widespread unionisation of fast food workers. Unite Union has collective agreements with all the major brands and is currently in dispute with McDonald’s over a renewal of their collective agreement.

Despite that fact Unite Union claims that McDonald’s has been taking advantage of the vulnerable position young migrant workers on student and temporary work visas.

Because promotion to a managers role was a precondition to being able to progress to permanent residence many franchisees and managers would use false promises of future reward to get staff to work through their breaks and unpaid overtime. Promises of promotion and training often went unfulfilled while pay often didn’t match the actual role workers were fulfilling.

The managers salary has been reduced by 30% or more in real value over the 20 years. At the same time the stores have become larger in both product volume and employment terms. Restaurant Managers at McDonald’s get around $40-45,000 for running a 24/7 operation with up to a 100 staff and millions of dollars in turnover annually. The job is only paid as a 40 hour a week position but inevitably managers are working an extra 10-20 hours a week without pay.

McDonald’s wouldn’t be able to get a citizen or permanent resident to do the job for that sort of money. Instead they have used the fact that temporary work visa holders are tied to a particular company to get aspiring migrants to do these jobs.

It is a system that invites abuse and unite has evidence of staff working unpaid, being discouraged from joining a union, and even cases of bribery and corruption in allocating jobs inside the company.


Joe Carolan, Senior Organiser Auckland 0294555702

Joe has worked on cases involving bribery and corruption inside McDonald’s stores in Auckland.

“The union has had major concerns about many McDonalds stores, in particular the lack of engagement with the local community, and a bad culture of promoting management externally. The perception is that Indian managers are hiring friends from their own circles, neglecting even the Indian staff who have worked there for years, as well as not hiring enough local workers. For example the Balmoral McDonald’s was built in the face of strident local opposition and the franchisee promised to hire 50 locals. This promise was never kept.”

Siddhata – McD’s Queen St.

“I have seen evey king of corruption in McDonald’s – racism, nepotism, favouritism – if you want to see what is wrong with the world you can see it all in one McDonald’s. They are offering us only 25 cents increase. I could have stayed at home in India and got better.”

Simran – McD’s Mangere

“They will force you indirectly that if you won’t be flexible with us, your visa will be in trouble. You can’t take a day off as per your entitlement, you have to come to work if they call you. You can not have morning shifts – you always have to work graves and other anti-social shifts. Others are residents so they can request any shifts and management have to roster them according to their availability, otherwise they will leave the job. But for us, we have to have open availability which means we can be rostered anytime.

“In our store they have been bringing in outsiders and refusing to promote existing staff.”

Farhan – ex-McD’s Panmure

“I am Farhan and I was working with Panmure McDonald’s. I want to complain against my store Management. I am really frustrated of my life now because of them. They ruined my visa and my life. Because they refused to give me a position which I needed although I was qualified enough.

“I was trained as a crew trainer but they refused to formally promote me or pay me the rate I was due for the job. They knew my visa was running out and kept saying they would fix it. And I was the most qualified person for crew trainer. I knew every station of Macdonalds. But they helped another guy who knew only one station. Was he qualified enough that he helped his boy but not me? Finally they simply refused. Then I was encouraged to resign and get another job with the promise of a good reference. Again they lied.

“So that is how he spoilt all my work visa by misusing me and when I am nearly finishing visa, who can give me job at this time.

“They spoilt my life. I am the oldest son of family and the only earner. I have to support my family back in India. What would I do now? Please tell me what can be done now. Who will support me. I am really angry with McDonald’s. I felt like I had to go through lots of stress and tension. Please look into the matter. There are lots of incidents happen in the store which I can not even write in my mail.”



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