McDonald’s exposed as serial lawbreaker

19 Jul

Unite Union discovered recently that McDonald’s has been breaking the law over breaks.

We estimate there have been at least 80,000 breaches by the company of the legal obligation to provide all employees who work longer than 4 hours a 30-minute break since breaks became a legal entitlement in April 2009.

In an attempts to fix the problem we have run into the legal might of a wealthy corporation and its contempt for the employment law and “good faith”. They have refused to supply wage and time records unless we get a new authorisation from members and claimed our collective agreement is not legal because they didn’t sign it.

This is an important issue as the government is removing even the modest protections that exist in the current law on breaks and leaving everything up to the employer to decide.

If McDonald’s can snub its nose at the law what chance do workers have at small employers?

Our collective agreement also has a clause that if the meal break is missed for any reason then the worker should be paid an additional 30 minutes as compensation. There is no record of that payment being made at the stores we have records for. We estimate the unpaid wages alone comes to approximately $2.5 million over the two year period of the collective agreement.

Friendly managers gave us printouts of the hours worked by all staff in two stores over a four month period. One was a McOpco store owned directly by the US parent and the other store is owned by a franchisee. All waged employees have to clock out and back in for their meal break but this does not apply to the shorter breaks. The reports clearly show that workers were routinely not being given a meal break if they were working shifts of more than four hours. It also showed that supervisors were regularly cutting their own breaks short because of short staffing. Neither group was compensated.

We have applied to the Employment Relations Authority to enforce the law and the collective agreement. . We will be seeking penalties for each and every breach of the law against our members and the payment provided for in the collective agreement.

We are up against a major multinational that has avoided having to deal with unions in most of the world. But the McDonald’s workers need public support if they are to succeed in New Zealand in enforcing their legal rights and getting a new and improved collective agreement that incorporates these rights in the future.

We are asking fellow workers to join our picket lines wherever possible. It is even possible that unions and community groups can have community pickets of their local stores in support of the workers inside.

We are also preparing for a month-long boycott of McDonald’s during September if the dispute remains unresolved.

We will be contacting all 350,000 members of the CTU to get them and their families to support this campaign.

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2 Responses to “McDonald’s exposed as serial lawbreaker”

  1. El Fonzo July 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Guys it’s macdonalds! What do you expect? There are people with no jobs at all who would be more than happy to get even a bit of income. Yeah it’s not right on how they pay people but it’s business, get a better job then, strive for more in your life. MacDonalds are a multi million dollar company who don’t care about anyone but themselves. Seriously there are a WHOLE lot more things worth protesting for, this is not one of them.

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