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Zero Hour Myths exposed by Fast Food worker survey

22 Feb

10991395 10155175547945006 3819573757507372076 nA major survey of fast food workers in New Zealand has

exposed the reality of “Zero Hour Contracts” for workers and some of the myths used to justify them.

Over a thousand fast food union members working for the major brands in New Zealand responded to Unite Union’s online survey, with nearly 700 giving detailed information on their working hours over the previous four weeks. That is the biggest response Unite Union has ever had to a member survey.

“Unfortunately it confirms in detail what we already knew from our worksite visits” said Unite Union National Secretary Gerard Hehir.

“Most fast food workers are willing and able to work more hours on a regular basis but are simply not given the opportunity. Over half who took part actually want an increase to 35 hours or more a week. We know hours become available on regular basis as other staff leave, but the companies choose to employ new staff and allocate hours week to week rather than offer any security of income.”

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SEVEN “ZERO HOUR” MYTHS VS REALITY

22 Feb

Some employers and politicians are trying to defend “zero hours” contracts as in the workers’ interest and trying to shift the focus away from the core problem of not having 

Results from Unite Union’s survey of fast food workers shows how far these ‘myths” are form reality:

Myth 1: Zero Hours Contracts give workers the flexibility they want.

Many fast food workers do want part-time work (although many who are part- time want to be full time – half of all workers wanted additional hours that would take them to 35 hours a week or more). There is a huge difference between regular part-time work with regular hours and a zero hours contract where you only find out your weekly hours and shifts a few days before they start. Fast food companies like the flexibility of zero hours contracts – their workers do not.

79% in the survey said that changes to their weekly hours causes them problems with paying basic living costs like rent, power, phone, food and transport. 42% said these problems happen on a regular basis. The comments on the difficulties roster changes caused were numerous and disturbing:

“If my hours drop anymore I won’t be able to feed my family.”

“It has severely affected my credit rating, I was referred to the nz budgeting service, due to my hours getting cut my bills suffered, I received over $4000 in police fines as I couldn’t afford to reg and wof my car due to change in my hours/income. My children lived off noodles and eggs for their main meal approx 4 times a week. Last but not least, I had to resort to criminal activity to ensure my children had lunch for school and warm clothes/shoes during the winter. Desperate times called for desperate measures :/

“Most the time i have to put off a different bill each week to be able to pay rent or buy food there has been a few times and a whole month where I
haven’t been able to buy any food at all because my hours were cut down. I use to be on 45 a week now I’m lucky to get 25.”

“One staff member with 2 children under three has had her hours almost halved in about 5 weeks and management just argue the point and don’t listen”

Myth 2: Zero Hour contracts are jobs where you can’t work for someone else and you have to wait by the phone ready to work at a moments notice.

Those are just one type of these contracts. In fact a “zero hours contract” is just what it says: an employment agreement where there are no guaranteed hours, regardless of whether you are told your hours week by week or day by day. Apart from a few salaried managers, all fast food workers are on zero hours contracts, along with tens of thousands of other workers in the hospitality and retail sectors. Our survey showed that fast food workers worked an average of 25.5 weekly rostered hours, but that they also worked an average of 3.2 additional hours at short notice.

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Wendy’s accused of illegaly intimidating workers to stop striking

18 Feb

Wendy’s workers first strike at Hornby, Christchurch, on February 18, 2015

Unite Union has accused the Wendy’s corporation of intimidating workers to stop striking. Workers have been pulled aside by managers to caution them against striking "or there would be consequences for their future at Wendy’s". One union delegate was called into a meeting with the company CEO Danielle Lendich and told not to join the strikes.

Ironically today has been designated a global day of action in defence of the right to strike by the International Trade Union Confederation.

Unite action at Wendy’s is part of the union campaign against zero hour contracts in the industry. The company has written to staff and the public to say that all staff get hours each week but what they don’t say is that most staff have zero hours guaranteed. The only group of workers with guaranteed hours at Wendy’s are those with two years service and "open availability" over six or seven days in the week.

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Wendy’s workers take action over stolen lieu days

11 Feb

US McDonald’s workers Genoby Jimes (2nd from left) and Anggie Godoy (3rd from left) join Wendy’s workers outside the Royal Oak store in Auckland February 10. (Photo by Jos Wheeler)

Wendy’s workers from five stores in Auckland and Papakura walked off the job yesterday over the company’s theft of their right to “alternative days” off or “lieu days” for working on a public holiday.

The workers were joined outside the Royal Oak store by two McDonald’s workers from the USA who are part of the campaign in Los Angeles for “$15 and hour and a Union“. Anggie Godoy, 19, and Genoby Jimes, 27, are in New Zealand to support Unite Union’s campaign against zero hour contracts in the fast food industry and will be attending a national fast food workers gathering in Auckland on February 14. Meetings are also planned in Wellington on February 11 and 12 with the Council of Trade Unions, members of parliament and union activists

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Fast food strikes in US

9 Dec

 

FAST-FOOD WORKERS STRIKE IN 190 CITIES AS FIGHT FOR $15, UNION RIGHTS GROWS IN NEW INDUSTRIES

Push for Higher Pay Spreads as Home Care Workers, Convenience Store Cashiers, Discount Store Clerks, Airport Cleaners and Ramp Workers, Walmart Associates, Federally-Contracted Service Workers Call for $15 an Hour

In Just Two Years, Fast Food Cooks and Cashiers Have Sparked Broad Movement to Lift Wages for Families Living on the Brink—8 Million Low-Wage Workers Have Already Seen Raises

Two years after 200 New York City fast-food workers walked off their jobs, sparking a nationwide movement for $15 and union rights, cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and other major national chains went on strike Thursday in more than 190 cities— the most ever—joined for the first time by convenience store clerks and dollar-store workers in two dozen cities.

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Fast food workers arrested in US

22 Sep

On September 4, 2014 9 Rockford and Peoria the US, fast food workers were arrested engaging in civil disobedience because of commitment to do whatever it takes to win $15 and a union without retaliation.

Putting an end to zero-hour contracts in 2015

25 Aug

By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union

All around the world attention is being drawn to what have been dubbed in the UK “zero-hour contracts”. These are contracts that don’t have any guaranteed hours even though the worker may be regularly employed.

Unite Union has been struggling with exactly this problem since we started organising in sectors that had lost union protection during the 1990s.

What we discovered was that large sectors of the working class in this country had no guaranteed hours of work. This applied to fast food restaurants, security, cinemas, call centres and hotels. This doesn’t just apply to completely casualised sectors. The SkyCity Casino in Auckland is a 24-7 business with over 3000 staff. It knows pretty exactly how many customers it will have on any particular day of the week. It has every ability to have most workers on full-time contracts. Instead it keeps two out of three workers on part time contracts with only 8 hours of work guaranteed each week.

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