Rally outside a McDonald’s during the Feb 14 fast food workers conference
The government decided to increase the minimum wage by another 50 cents this year. I must admit I was expecting 25 cents so was pleasantly surprised. It will make the negotiations Unite Union has with all the fast food giants starting next week that bit easier. Most of our agreements are based on the minimum wage and we can bank the 3.5% increase whist focusing on this years priority – an end to zero hours. Our members know that whatever the minimum wage increase it can all be lost again with a reduction of just one or two hours in a members roster.
This week also say the MP’s get a similar percentage pay rise. However their increase equals $8300 a year whereas our fast food members will be getting only $500 on an average work week of 23 hours.
A few appeals to the union for help from workers I have received just this week will give a taste of the problems our members face. They relate to three different companies. I will remove the names of the companies and workers for confidentiality but their stories are not uncommon across the industry.
Hi, I’m emailing cause I am concerned about my hours at work.
I’ve been with …… too long about 7 years. My first two years was all good, I had reasonable hours until my 3rd year onwards my hours started decreasing down to about 15 hours a week or just 1 day 5 hours.
Now I am only working 10-15 hours a week which is terrible and how am I suppose to cope in life with only around $160 a weeks pay.
I have been asking for more hours and shifts so many times and even filled in the availability sheet, but still I don’t get the hours I ask for.
Case 2 (notes from a phone call):
I had my name taken off the roster this week. I have NO SHIFTS AT ALL THIS WEEK.
Other times I have been given 2 hour shifts 4 days a week. I asked for more hours – but always given less hours or none at all. I have full-time availability.
The manager demands we work after we have clocked out. Or before we have clocked on.
The manager is bagging the Union to all staff saying “Union is not good”, “Wasting your money giving it to the Union because you can’t afford it or no use because they don’t help the workers.”
My name is ….. from the ………… store. One of the difficulties I have with the Zero hour contracts is that I can’t sustain a healthy breastfeeding routine for my baby. One of the reasons I chose breastfeeding in the first instance. Cost effective. Seeing I don’t know how much I will be paid week-week. I have brought this up with my Manager and nothing has been done. All mothers know. added stress play a big part in milk supply drops and rises from day to day. the roster changes and financial stability contribute to my stress nowadays. A manager actually made a comment along the lines of. “Well you can’t get any more supervisor shifts until you stop breastfeeding” I thought that was unfair and upsetting. I have worked at the store for 2 and a half years and recently became a supervisor. It is very hard to maintain a steady routine for my now 1year old baby. Especially not knowing what days and times I have to pump, breastfeed for her. Not to mention the shifts that I get called in for that I’m not rostered on for. I’ll admit it I have needed it some weeks due to drops in hours. And if I dare say ‘No’ I will find my hours are cut the following week. Even when I’m in the middle of breastfeeding or pumping. MOD will expect me to drop what I’m doing. As a breastfeeding spokesperson I would be kidding myself to stop. To be honest at times I have considered it to get the extra money for my kids, rent, bills etc. But I’m not willing to change my babies somewhat routine and her means of nourishment. because the company I work for wont change this ridiculous scheduling system they concocted. I know this isn’t common. But I was just wondering if anyone has had similar problems. Any feedback would help. Please let me know your thoughts.
Workers in the fast food industry have identified what has been dubbed “zero hour contracts” as the central problem they face. These are contracts that don’t guarantee any hours a week while workers are expected to work any shifts rostered within their “availability”. Manager have power to use and abuse the rostering system to reward and punish without any real means of holding them to account.
We did a survey of fast food members and 1000 participated in the online survey. This was a fantastic result and reflected their deep concern. The results have been published here and are a fascinating read. What is very clear is that workers want more hours and more secure hours.
A national fast food workers conference on February 14 determined to get rid of zero-hour contracts in the industry.
This will be a tough battle but we are determined to win guaranteed hours in this years collective agreement negotiations with the power to increase the guaranteed hours with service.
One positive side to the campaign so far is the almost universal opposition to these contracts. Campbell Live had a great report on the issue this week and we hope they will follow it up as hundreds of workers contacted after the programme with their own horror stories.
The Labour and Green Parties have both said that their MP’s are going to sponsor a bill to change the law to severely restrict the use of zero hour contracts.
The government is feeling a bit of pressure on the issue and have announced that they are doing a rethink on the issue. The fear is they will only deal with the very worst abuses and leave the big fast food and cleaning and security companies alone.
Negotiations with all the big fast food companies begin next week and will continue through to the end of March when the collective Agreements expire. We are already in dispute with Wendy’s as their agreement remains unresolved from last year. We will need public support to win. Watch this space.