Employees at Burger King New Zealand are striking for better pay and conditions following a year of ongoing negotiations with Unite Union.
The union claims that Burger King workers are among the lowest paid workers in the fast food industry, with store managers on $16.88 per hour (38 cents above the minimum wage) and workers on salaries allegedly expected to do an unreasonable amount of hours of unpaid overtime.
Moreover, they argue that if employees work an hour or an hour and a half overtime then they're actually working for less than the minimum wage.
HRD contacted Burger King for comment and a spokesperson said that having taken the step to pay all employees above minimum wage earlier this year, Burger King still remains bargaining in good faith with Unite Union.
“It is very disappointing that Unite Union have opted to take industrial action whilst this process is underway,” said the spokesperson.
“Burger King New Zealand has and continues to work constructively with Unite Union on collective bargaining negotiations.”
The spokesperson added that the health, safety and wellbeing of all Burger King employees and customers “is and remains of paramount importance”.
“Until these negotiations have concluded, we are not in a position to comment publically on any issues relating to them until they have been resolved within the appropriate forum.”
Unite has about 500 Burger King members, which equates to about 40% of its workforce.
Moreover, Council of Trade Unions secretary Sam Huggard said that Burger King should “stick to flame-grilling burgers instead of roasting employment relations, as Unite members have had to resort to taking industrial action around the country”.
“Unite has made it really clear to Burger King that its lack of action to clean up unpaid work hours, low pay, lack of breaks and poor salary progression is unacceptable,” said Huggard.
He added that “even the most basic process requests on health and safety have been denied by this employer”, and it’s for these reasons that union members are having to take industrial action.
“We’re seeing far too many employers who think they can squeeze those working for them out of the most basic hallmarks of respect like the right to a rest or meal break or even pitiful wage increases. Unite members are also taking industrial action for similar reasons at Wendy’s and Event Cinemas,” said Huggard.
“It’s time for employers to swiftly re-calibrate what New Zealanders will accept when it comes to the fair pay and treatment of working people in this country.”