They go to great lengths to ensure the products are made to an exacting standard but it seems when it comes to using zero hours most fast food franchises just don’t care what happens in their stores and don’t want to know.
Unite Union, which earlier this year negotiated the end of zero-hour contracts at four major fast food chains, wrote to over seventeen other chains in New Zealand to ask them whether their franchisees used zero-hour contracts and to request meetings to discuss their employment arrangements. Even after following up the original letter most companies did not respond.
This is why it is so important that Labour Minister Michael Woodhouse actually follows through on his promise to limit the abuse of zero hour contracts with the Employment Standards Bill.
Unite Union National Secretary Gerard Hehir says "The proposed legislation currently does just the opposite - it actually gives zero hour agreements legal status they do not currently have, allowing the worst aspects to be used with only token compensation for workers. Unless strengthened considerably it will mean many thousands of workers working for large multi-national brands will continue to struggle not knowing how much they have to live on from week to week."
The response from Subway shows why:
"All Subway restaurants are individually owned and operated and the employment of staff is at the sole discretion of the franchisee of the Subway® restaurant.”
"The translation is pretty easy: we don’t ask and we don’t care about the wages and conditions of Subway employees” said Mr Hehir.
“These franchise operations have very high levels of standards to protect brand reputation and franchisees who don’t follow them are penalised or even have their franchise terminated. They will specify the exact colour a bread roll needs to be baked to and the exact number of grams of ham that goes into that roll, but when it comes to how franchisees treat their workers and their ability to live off their weekly pay - they just don’t care.”
“Thats exactly why we have minimum employment standards for wages and conditions and why the use of zero hour contracts needs to be made unlawful. There are numerous options for employing staff that give some flexibility to employers but some security to their workers. We have done it at McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hutt, Burger King and Wendys but it is clear that the other companies will only act if they are forced to. ”
There were two brands that did respond meaningfully to Unite over the issue.
Hells Pizza announced earlier in the year that they would no longer use zero-hour contracts after 1st June and Unite is engaging with them to see how that policy is working out in practice for their employees.
Dominoes agreed to meet and while they admitted that most employees were on zero hour contacts they were willing to engage with the union to allow access to Dominoes employees
“The problem is that while Unite or other unions may expand coverage to include some of these workers, there are many tens of thousands working in cafes, bars, restaurants and other businesses that will have no protection against zero hours for years to come unless the Minister does what he promised to earlier in the year.”
For more information contact
Gerard Hehir on 021 02940345
Franchise companies written to:
The Coffee Club
Gloria Jeans Coffee
Robert Harris Coffe
Sierra Boutique Cafe