Fast food giant “disappointed” over strike action

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The CEO of Restaurant Brands has spoken out about recent strike action, saying he’s disappointed that union representatives rejected a “market-leading” collective agreement.

“The overall package of terms and conditions of our employees is better than our competitors in the sector and includes a faster pathway for new employees to increase their pay rates,” said group CEO Russel Creedy.

Restaurant Brands operates New Zealand's KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks Coffee franchises – according to Creedy, it was the first major employer in the fast food sector to scrap zero-hour contracts and negotiate fixed schedules for staff.

“We are an important first job opportunity for many of our employees, so it’s disappointing that the union has rejected our offer to pay entry level positions above the Adult Minimum Wage, from day one,” added Creedy.

According to a press release from the fast food giant, Unite rejected an collective agreement offer last week, which included an increase of 10 cents above the current adult minimum wage for all brands entry level from day one, a 50 cents per hour increase across all other rates across all brands and a 50 cents per hour increase above the adult minimum wage for KFC workers after 10 weeks of starting.

Unite national director Mike Treen agreed that Restaurant Brands had previously set the benchmark in the fast food sector but said the company was showing signs of change.

"In the past, they have been the first to move in a positive direction," Treen said. "They're adopting a position which is going to put them behind McDonald's which we can't allow - McDonald's is normally the difficult one."

According to Unite national secretary Gerard Hehir, Restaurant Brands rejected a “very modest” proposal for an annual pay rise of 10 cents an hour above the minimum wage for the next three years. The deal would mean the lowest paid workers would earn 30 cents an hour above the minimum wage by 2019.

The union also wants shift supervisors and skilled staff who are able to run stores independently to get increases over three years that will move them towards the Living Wage.

“These are not school kids. They are qualified and experienced workers who can run a store on their own: managing staff, managing a retail store and a food production facility,” said Hehir. “They deserve a Living Wage and Restaurant Brands can afford to pay them a Living Wage.”

Roughly 2,000 Unite Union members picketed select stores on Saturday in what was the first strike action for Restaurant Brands in over 10 years.

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