Two West Auckland McDonald’s stores were short of workers and customers last night as workers at Lynmall McDonald’s walked off the job to strike for fair and equal pay for fast food workers. Four workers stopped work at the Lynmall foodcourt McDonald’s and marched across the road to a bigger restaurant owned by the same franchisee where they were joined by other McDonald’s workers.
“I’m striking for workplace bullying, homophobes, pay, you name it”, said Jennifer Machinlay who told Unite Union that she was bullied by management. “I’m on strike because I’ve been underpaid for the last 6 months” said another worker, Taylor McLoon.
Restaurant management called in the police when customers began turning their cars away from the drive through after hearing of low pay and mistreatment from striking workers. “Good on you guys. I’m never eating here again” said one driver. Union officials spoke with police who stepped back to allow the workers carry on with the picket as is their right under New Zealand law. “Now that I’ve seen how effective this is, I’m definitely coming out on strike next time” said a worker from the New Lynn store. Some of the workers are fearful of going on strike because they are afraid of having their hours cut. “The company has refused to strengthen their security of hours, which leaves the workers afraid to speak out and stand up for themselves, but they are doing it anyway.” said Gary Cranston.
“What we’re seeing here is McDonald’s workers doing the same thing the KFC workers did a few years ago when they all started joining the Union, going on strike and getting better pay and stronger protection against bullying and discrimination in their contract’s as a result”, said Unite Union official Gary Cranston. “Workers at KFC are paid significantly better than McDonald’s workers, mainly because they are strongly unionised and have a great deal of power as a result.”
Two workers from the newly opened Carls Jr restaurant in Avondale happened to be in the area and joined in on the picket. “It’s fantastic to see fast food workers supporting one another for fair and equal pay in their industry” said Joe Carolan of Unite Union.
Since the campaign for equal pay began a great number of McDonald’s workers in West Auckland have joined the union. “Equal pay for equal work, what’s wrong with that?” said Gary Cranston. “That’s why workers are joining the Union and striking.” The company refused to give the workers any more than a 25c pay rise in this year’s negotiations, appalling considering how much money McDonald’s makes and how workers at KFC and Carls Jr are being paid several dollars an hour more for doing what is essentially the same work.
“I’ve been visiting these stores, all owned by the same franchisee over the past three weeks and discovered many ongoing breaches of employment law and the employment contracts the workers are on. Workers aren’t being paid correctly, not being paid for breaks they are forced to work through and working in positions above their official job title.” The money left unpaid to these workers is being kept by the franchisee. “That’s illegal. That’s theft” said Gary Cranston.
“These pickets and protests will continue until the company and its franchisees agree to pay and treat these workers fairly” said Brendan Leyting of West City McDonald’s, another store owned by the same franchisee.