Tag Archives: Mcstrike

McStrike – A Delegate’s Tale

8 Nov

Taylor M. is a seventeen year old west Auckland McDonald’s worker, Unite Union delegate and Socialist Aotearoa member. This is her account of the McStrike campaign from the Socialist Aotearoa website.

On April 29th, negotiations between Unite Union and McDonald’s broke down over the renewal of our existing collective agreement. A collective agreement is the agreement workers are moved onto after joining the union, which takes them off their individual contracts. Unlike the original contract you’re given when you start working at McDonalds, this agreement allows for negotiation and improvements in future as the union takes into account worker’s requests and complaints when redrafting the agreement for the following year and adding their voices in.

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Letter to Speaker of NZ Parliament

8 Nov

The following letter has been sent to the speaker of the NZ parliament alleging a breach of priviledge by McDonald’s for victimising a worker for what they said at a select committee meeting.

No Right Turn reports a similar case a few years ago. They commented: “This is an open and shut contempt of Parliament. Evidence given before Select Committees is protected by Parliamentary Privilege, and the House’s Standing orders include “assaulting, threatening, or disadvantaging a person on account of evidence given by that person to the House or a committee” as an example of contempt. In 2006, TVNZ was fined and forced to apologise to Parliament [PDF] for disadvantaging a witness (outgoing CEO Ian Fraser) by bringing internal disciplinary proceedings against him. McDonald’s has gone further, against a more vulnerable witness, and deserves a far harsher punishment.”

The International Union of Foodworkers has launched an online campaign to protest this victimisation of a union activist.

You can support Sean Bailey and Unite, CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE TO MCDONALD’S demanding his reinstatement!


To Speaker Rt Hon David Carter,

New Zealand Parliament

Dear Mr Carter,

On October 14 McDonald’s sacked Unite Union delegate Sean Bailey.

Unite Union believes Sean Bailey has been subject to victimisation after he appeared before the industrial relations select committee on September 11.

The union also believes he has been targeted for exposing serial law breaking by the company over not providing meal breaks as mandated under the current law.

On September 17, just a week after appearing before the select committee, Sean received a disciplinary letter alleging he had accessed wage and time records in late April for staff in his store and made them available to the union. (see Appendix A)

The company held on to the information supporting that allegation (an in store video) for five months until after he had appeared before the select committee and the dispute over the collective agreement had been concluded before bringing the disciplinary charges.

The company followed this letter up with another dated September 27 with charges directly related to his appearance before the select committee. The second disciplinary letter said: “It appears that what you have said during the course of the select committee hearing and

doing so in uniform may give rise to breaches of your obligations to your employer.” (See Appendix B)

Parliament’s Standing Orders prohibits “… Threatening or disadvantaging a person on account of evidence given by that person to the House or a committee”.

The company indicated to us prior to holding the disciplinary meeting to consider their charges against Sean that they wanted to proceed with the complaint over accessing wage and time records before considering the charge over the select committee appearance. We argued that we did not think that it was appropriate to separate the issues and we needed to consider the gravity of the apparent contempt of parliament and its legal implications. We believed that the company had joined the issues and they could not be unilaterally separated. (See Appendix C for correspondence between the parties)

In the end the company simply proceeded with the disciplinary action in Sean’s absence on their preferred charge and wrote a preliminary decision to dismiss on October 10. (See Appendix D). They did this without confirming that that was their intention rather than simply their preference. We objected by email on October 13. (See Appendix E). The company confirmed the dismissal on October 14. (See appendix F). The company responded to my objections on October 15. (See Appendix G)

McDonald’s is currently subject to a legal action by Unite Union over failing to provide 30-minute meal breaks for many shifts of more than four hours. Unite has discovered that the breaches of the law have been routine. The company had been claiming to the union that they were not able to provide us with wage and time records that included breaks taken.

We asked our delegates to check if this was true. We were able to get information from a number of stores to prove that this claim was not true so we formally wrote and asked for that information for all our members as is our legal right.

The then “National Director of HR and Talent” for McDonald’s Lauren Voyce responded in an email that repeated the lie that McDonald’s “does not record employees taking breaks”. Sean is being sacked for exposing that lie. (See Appendix H)

We believe there has been pre-meditation in the actions taken against Sean. He had been an active delegate in the four months of the dispute the union had with McDonald’s over a renewal of the collective agreement. The McRush franchise of McDonald’s has a clear majority of its staff in the union. This was in large part to the effectiveness of Sean Bailey as a delegate.

Laura Thompson, the Business Partner and HR manager for the McRush Franchise owned stores sent a text to Sean in early August saying “You better watch out because I will fire you for the smallest things you do in the store”. (see Appendix I)

Sean also has a personal grievance against the McRush Franchisee for cutting his hours in an unreasonable and unlawful fashion because of his union role during the dispute.

Video footage allegedly showing Sean printing off the wage and time records was kept for 5 months before being used as part of the disciplinary process. Laura Thompson had previously told Unite that video footage was not kept for more than 2 weeks when we wanted an allegation of sexual assault investigated yet they have managed to produce video footage from the end of April

It is our belief that McDonald’s deliberately withheld the disciplinary action against Sean until after the dispute between the company and Unite had been settled. In so doing they have removed any pretense that they could claim a loss of trust and confidence as he has been working there continuously for the entire period. It is not good faith practice to collect grievances and then spring them on someone much later rather than dealing with them promptly.

The decision to proceed with the charges against Sean and his subsequent dismissal appears to have been provoked by Sean’s appearance before the select committee. We ask that the Speaker take action to remedy this grave injustice.

Yours Sincerely

Mike Treen
National Director
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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Unite decries WINZ wage subsidy to McDonald’s

6 Aug

Unite Union is questioning the $270,000 paid by WINZ as a wage subsidy to McDonald’s between July 2009 and June 2013.

“This subsidy is only for the stores directly owned by the US fast food giant. 80% of stores in New Zealand are franchisee owned so the probable subsidy could be in the millions” said Unite National Director Mike Treen.

“We do not believe McDonald’s needs to be subsidised to employ workers. They are a huge multinational making billions of dollars in profits. Their employment agreements don’t even guarantee any hours for most staff from week to week. Moreover for the period of this subsidy we have discovered that McDonald’s has been a serial law breaker in relation to rest and meal breaks.

“We are in the process of taking McDonald’s to court because they have consistently failed to provide 30-minute meal breaks to workers working shifts over 4 hours as required by law since April 2009. Based on figures from two stores – one owned by the McOpCo parent and one by a franchisee – over a four month period they have breached the law 100 times a month. If this were multiplied by all 161 stores since the April 2009 law change there could be 80,000 legal breaches. McDonald’s has also cheated workers out of an estimated $2.5 million in compensation for these breaks as required in the union’s collective agreement. .

“Unite is also concerned that the company accounts appear to be designed to minimise the payment of tax in this country. McDonald’s NZ pays a far higher franchise fee to its parent than is the case in other countries. They have also taken out a huge ‘loan’ to pay the US giant $150 million and so ‘boost its tax deductable interest expense in coming years‘.

“Our question is why should a wealthy multinational that cheats the taxpayer and its workers deserve a subsidy from the taxpayer. It doesn’t make any sense.”

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.




John Oliver tears into treatment of fast food

5 Aug
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