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Restaurant Brands offers Chief Exec a $1m bonus

5 Sep


Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy

Restaurant Brands, the owner of the KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Carl’s Jr brands in NZ, is offering its chief executive Russel Creedy a $1million bonus if he meets certain targets.

The bonus will apply from the July 2015 financial year if he achieves a $4 share price over 40 consecutive days or there is a takeover offer at that price. the current price is $3.36 a share.

Unite Union doesn’t begrudge anyone a fair days pay for a fair days work we are not sure that this is value for money and wonder if simply increasing the share price is a measure of company success.

Often Chief Executives receive perverse motivations as a result of simplistic targets like this. Sometime a share price boost is achieved by buying back shares. Sometimes companies get forced to seek short term returns rather than long-term gain by get rich quick schemes. Sometimes those schemes can involve squeezing workers wages or pushing staffing levels down to intolerable levels.

We hope that is not Mr Creedy is not perversely motivated by the carrot of a $1 million bonus but it is hard not to see that as an inevitable outcome.

That means Unite will need to be very focused on protecting wages and hours of work in the next round of negotiations which begin in early 2015.

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A history of Unite Union (Part 4 of 4)

26 Jun

(The following history was prepared as part of the contribution by Unite Union to the international fast food workers meeting in New York in early May. Unions officials and workers were fascinated by the story we were able to tell which in many ways was a prequel to the international campaign today.)

All four parts of this series can be downloaded as a single PDF file from here

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Some attacks on Unite

As mentioned earlier, there was some sectarianism towards Unite at the beginning by some Labour Party members and union officials. In a very few places, ourselves and the SFWU “compete” for the same membership – at one hotel, the Casino and two security companies. That inevitably involves some friction, but we do joint agreements at the hotel and the Casino without major problems.

Right wing bloggers have focused their attacks not on what we do but on the alleged tax problems we have.

Unite was formed with no financial resources. We spent before we received fees. We always had an ambitious growth strategy. We occasionally hired new staff optimistically in anticipation of growth. Matt McCarten formed a company to manage the relationship with Te Wananga o Aotearoa which made a profit and was able to subsidise some of our activities. Unfortunately, Matt fell very ill with two different cancers from which he was not expected to live. Some of the projects subsidising Unite fell by the wayside. Matt actually had a life insurance policy which had the union as a beneficiary, and needless to say, financial affairs could not be top priority for Matt at the time.

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A history of Unite Union (Part 3 of 4)

17 Jun

Unite Union sign on front of 300 Queen Street

(The following history was prepared as part of the contribution by Unite Union to the international fast food workers meeting in New York in early May. Unions officials and workers were fascinated by the story we were able to tell which in many ways was a prequel to the international campaign today.)

All four parts of this series can be downloaded as a single PDF file from here

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Extending Unite’s reach

Unite was always looking to ways to bring our members additional benefits. In late 2006, Unite contracted with Te Wananga o Aotearoa – a Maori-led tertiary institution – to offer computer classes for union members. We set up a Unite school in central Auckland and provided classes days and evenings, seven days a week, so our members could attend. A casino worker on a rotating 24-7 shift could enrol and complete a course. For a few years, one of the main buildings in Queen St was named “Unite House” with red flags flying from the roof – much to the consternation of friend and foe alike. Thousands of workers graduated from these courses.

In July 2006, SkyCity casino workers won pay rises of 5-9% after a campaign of two-hour, all-out strikes several times a week combined with rolling strikes by department. The company was taken by surprise at the determination of the SEA-Unite members.

SEA-Unite members join picket in 2006

In late 2006 and 2007, Unite unionised a factory owned by Independent Liquor at the request of some workers. This was a very anti-union employer. Strikes and pickets were needed to get a collective agreement, the first in the company for 20 years. After a while, however, we realised that we were probably getting beyond core business and agreed to allow the Engineers Union which covered workers in other liquor manufacturing plants to take over representation.

Unite also extended its representation with a hotel campaign involving strikes (and occasional lockouts) at a number of hotels in early 2007. The ADT-Armourguard monitoring centre struck on Christmas Eve – the busiest night of the year to secure an improved offer for a renewed collective agreement.

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Taxpayers foot bill for corporates

17 Sep

By Matt McCarten

Herald on Sunday, 15 September 2013

There’s a blind spot with John Key when it comes to giving taxpayers’ cash to corporate monopolies.

The “trickle-down” ideology once espoused by the far right – that if we made the wealthy even richer their good fortune would trickle down to the masses – has been thoroughly discredited.

But the Prime Minister has taken this nonsense to a new level – Key now trickles money upwards from the poor to the rich.

It’s unnerving that under Key there is a growing list of wealthy monopolies padding their profit margins, with this Government writing out cheques or passing favourable laws for them.

In other countries they call this corruption; our former financial trader calls it deal-making.

On Thursday, a broad coalition of business and community groups (including my union, Unite) launched a campaign against the Government’s stated intention to pass a law allowing Australian-owned company Chorus to be effectively subsided by New Zealanders.

Internet users will be required to pay $12 a month more for copper wires than recommended by the Commerce Commission. This apparently means $600 million will be transferred by internet users to a private business.

It seems Chorus’ profits of $171 million aren’t enough, and we need to shovel even more largesse their way. If that wasn’t enough of a gob-smacker, this week (in defiance of Treasury advice) Key authorised giving $30 million of taxpayers’ money directly to Rio Tinto, the foreign owners of the smelter at Tiwai Point.

At the same time, Government-owned Meridian Energy slashed its power prices to the plant.

The Government claimed it did this to save jobs. Has it suddenly become a market interventionist to subsidise favoured corporations to help job creation? Or is it about Rio Tinto pocketing a windfall from politicians desperate to preserve the sale price of Meridian Energy?

The smart operators at Rio Tinto saw how Sir Peter Jackson and his United States backers got Key to cough up millions of dollars for nothing and thought, why not us?

After the SkyCity deal, where Key gave a monopoly a guaranteed mechanism to make money, his motivation has become clear: these deals help advance the Government’s political agenda and a corporate is guaranteed a profit. The taxpayer foots the bill and the guy who put the deal together clips the ticket.

Something stinks of aluminium, copper and money. It’s a smell that shouldn’t be ignored.

Today, the Labour Party announces its new leader. The party and the three candidates have had a great campaign. Now that it’s over, the victor should ensure his two contesters are kept on the front bench so they can focus on Key and his Government. The leadership has always been Cunliffe’s to lose. But whether it’s Robertson or Cunliffe, they are both capable of holding Key to account. I’m looking forward to it.

(Matt McCarten is National Secretary of Unite Union. His weekly Herald on Sunday column are a commentary on social and political issues in New Zealand. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unite Union.)

Unite makes gains on insecure hours in McDonald’s contract

30 Aug

By Mike Treen

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

Unite Union is in the process of ratifying a new collective agreement with McDonald’s that is a significant step forward in getting improved security of hours for that company’s 9500 employees. It comes after negotiations broke down at the end of April and four months of action by members and supporters at stores around the country.


Unite delegates training at day at the Unite office

The new fairer rostering clause is the most important change in the agreement and applies to all members. The power to roster someone or not is the most important weapon for controlling and disciplining the workforce.

The new clause affirms the the importance of “rostering employees fairly and reasonably”.

It says that “Where additional hours become available in a restaurant current employees will be offered additional shifts before new employees are employed.” There is an added obligation that “additional shifts will be notified to employees on the crew notice board”.

When hours have to be reduced in store then the reduction “will be uniformly applied” so they can’t cut just some members shifts while other stay the same or even get more.

Where members have problems with their shifts they can raise the matter with their manager, get their own wage and time records, and if they are not satisfied with the response have the issue escalated to the HR department who must “investigate and share relevant information.”

A union representative can be involved at any stage of that process. If the union believes there is a store wide problem it can be taken to the HR department “who will investigate and share relevant information.”

The obligation to “share relevant information” is an important obligation as it has often been difficult in the past to get information from the company regarding rosters and hours in a store.

The company has also committed to stronger education of managers and monitoring and enforcement measures, including the issue in crew questionnaires and posters in store explaining the policy and the escalation process crew can use if they aren’t happy.

Union member only payment

All union members who joined before April 29 (when negotiations broke down) will receive a special payment when this agreement is ratified. Nonunion staff do not receive this payment. In return for this payment the union agrees to allow the company to pass on the terms and conditions to nonunion staff. The amount paid depend on the average hours worked in the previous 8 weeks. Union members who work over 30 hours on average get $200 (gross). Union members who work 21-30 hours on average get $125 (gross). Union members who work 20 hours or less on average get $100 (gross).

Improved breaks clause

An important part of the new agreement is ensuring that the current legal obligations to provide breaks (which is being repealed by the government) is maintained. The company had also wanted to go back to a 10-minute rest break. Unite has been able to get the legal rest break of 10 minutes increased to 15 minutes in all its collective agreements.

The new clause ensures a 15 minute paid break in the 3-hour minimum shift. The 30 minute unpaid meal break is required for working more than 4 hours and a second 15 minute break kicks in for working more than six hours. This is the first time it has actually been in the agreement that the second rest break must happen for working more than six hours.

Workers will be compensated an additional 15 minutes pay is they miss a rest break. We believe workers should also be compensated for missing the meal break but the company and union are in dispute on that issue with differing interpretations of a clause in the old collective agreement and will probably end up in court over the issue. If we are successful workers could be owed several million dollars.

In this agreement we included a clause that the union had the right to seek a penalty and compensation for individual workers if they miss their meal break. The company has also committed to doing a more thorough auditing process of stores to ensure compliance with the breaks clause.

Wage increase modest

The wage increase is modest and constrained by the 25 cent an hour minimum wage movement. This was increased to at least 30 cents an hour for most workers but McDonald’s still remain behind rates paid at KFC – a gap which we had hoped to close more.

There were other small improvements around training being available to everyone within three months of starting and the higher rates that result from completing the training to apply from the date their books are submitted. The agreement also spells out that no one can be forced to work outside their availability – especially overnight shifts.

The new collective agreement will also be made available to all new staff with a membership form attached for those who want to join the union. The collective agreement itself has been radically rewritten to make it make more user friendly and is now half its previous length because a lot of company propaganda has been removed.

The on-line vote on the new collective agreement is currently running at 90% in favour so it seems that the members agree that the agreement offers us an opportunity to push back against the casualisation that has marked the fast food industry since the deunionisation of the industry in the early 1990s.

In 2003 when Unite Union decided to start reorganising some of the sectors of the economy that had largely lost union representation and collective agreements we were horrified at the prevalence of what overseas has been dubbed “zero-hour contracts”. Most of the workers we represent today in fast food, movie theatres, security, call centres, and hotels had individual employment agreements that had no guaranteed hours. Workers also rarely got their proper breaks – especially in fast food.

In the UK the fact that an estimated one million workers are on zero hour contracts has become a national scandal. In the USA there is the beginnings of a widespread revolt against insecure hours and low wages with nationwide strikes planned for yesterday.

Whilst we haven’t eliminated those problems we have introduced clauses in all the main agreements that affirm the right to secure hours and constrain the employers right to hire new staff before offering the hours that are available to existing staff first. Each new collective agreement has tightened up on the clauses to increase the protections. With the most recent Restaurant Brands agreement (covering KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks) and now the McDonald’s agreement we have included clauses that demand the sharing of information with members and the union when disputes over staffing and rostering happens. We think this will significantly strengthen our position when we get into arguments over whether the company is actually complying with its obligations under the collective agreements. However Wendy’s is the only company we have an agreement for guaranteed hours for crew after 2 years service.

It is probable that the percentage of workers on zero hour contracts in New Zealand is larger than the UK. The labour movement as a whole should be making the issue a national scandal in this country.

In 2015 Unite will be renegotiating the major fast food contracts with the goal of moving from secure hours to guaranteed hours for most staff.

– See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/08/30/unite-makes-gains-on-necure-hours-in-mcdonalds-contract/#sthash.8IlHttbA.dpuf

(Unite National Director Mike Treen has a blog hosted on the TheDailyBlog website. The site is sponsored by several unions and hosts some of New Zealand’s leading progressive commentators. Mike’s blog will be covering union news and general political comment but the views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of Unite Union.)

McDonald’s Clendon lunchtime strike (8/813)

9 Aug

Mcds Clendon always wanting to be the first out of the gates, leads the first strikes of the day on Thursday for Auckland. The strike was lead by their union strong site delegates who organised there own strike in protest at the lack of movement by McDonald’s on there pay claims. Mcds Clendon had 7 workers who walked off their shift to show support to the Mcstrike Campaign. Of those 7 workers 3 of them had their first taste of a Mcstrike. Well done Clendon community who supported by not buying McDonald’s during the strike.

 

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Wairau Park strike – store empty

6 Aug

On the 2nd of August, six workers at McDonald’s in Wairau Park, led by their 15 year old delegate, took strike action for higher wages and better conditions.

Many of them feel they are being messed around by the restaurant manager. Issues include not being given enough shifts, not having their issues sorted out and a shocking number being on the wrong pay rate. On top of this they struggle to survive on the pitiful wages and measly hours they are receiving.

At 5pm, 6 workers walked off shift, leaving only the managers to run the store. As rush hour approached, bureaucrats from head office came flooding into the store in an attempt to keep the McProfits flowing. Interestingly however the people in suits from McOpCo weren’t very familiar with doing the work necessary to keep the customers happy and it was clear from the madness inside that the company was losing money and it’s brand image was suffering.

The striking workers held the picket line across the drive through for 2 hours, chanting “Working for nothing really sucks, what do we want? $15!” and calmly explaining to people why they were on strike. The majority of drive through customers were very supportive and tooted their horns in solidarity. A few customers were not supportive and were allowed to drive through to order their burgers.

It was a successful strike action that cost McDonald’s money and reputation. It showed the company that their staff are the ones running their restaurants and making the money. The staff who went on strike developed a confidence that I have not seen for a long time and they were resolute that they will keep striking until the company gives them what they want.

STRIKE VIDEOS

 

 

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