Unite union supports the Labour Inspectorate’s enforcement action that has seen Burger King (Antares Restaurants) banned from getting new visas for migrant workers for a year.
The reason for then ban is for paying a salaried manager (and Unite union member) less than the minimum wage:
“This is a large high profile corporation and shows that this is not just a problem for small restaurants and fruit pickers - it goes right across most sectors and company sizes” said National Secretary Gerard Hehir.
(Burger King has 83 Restaurants and employees over 2,600 staff. It first opened in New Zealand in 1993 and is currently owned by one of the largest private equity firms in the world - New York based Blackstone Group. Group CEO Steve Schwarzman was paid US$786 million in 2017).
"Migrant workers are the most vulnerable to exploitation because their visa conditions often tie them to one employer. They fear speaking out because if they lose their job, they lose their ability to work in New Zealand. Employers who steal from their employees need to be sent a very clear message. Banning them from employing vulnerable migrant workers is a good start. If an employer is not able to guarantee the most basic minimum conditions allowed by law, they should not be able to hire vulnerable workers."Read more
Unite Union wants answers from the government as to why hundreds of thousands of workers are still waiting to have the annual leave stolen from them in the past restored.
It is three years since Unite first wrote to major employers in the fast food industry telling them that they were miscalculating annual leave for their staff.
It is two years since MBIE, the government agency responsible, admitted being in error in the payment of their own staff.
Last week we discovered that the firm Xero, who provide accounting software for a third of all New Zealand small businesses as well as online payroll services, have sent us and other employers their method for calculating annual leave and it means employers will get many workers annual leave just plain wrong. This firm may be de facto the largest payroll provider in the country with hundreds of thousands of clients.
After a Burger King worker contacted their union organiser to see what could be done about being paid only minimum wage to run shifts, Unite has launched an investigation into our member's pay rates.
What we have found is workers running shifts on various pay rates. Most are being paid as a Team Trainer but some are receiving the minimum wage.
Based on job descriptions from the company and as per our Collective Agreement, workers running shift must be paid the Production Coordinator rate which is currently $16.58 per hour. The problem our members have come across when raising this issue is the response from management. Burger King Area Managers across the country have told workers that this position does not exist and has been disestablished.
Other Area Managers have told staff that if the Restaurant Manager is on site they can not receive the Production Coordinator rate. Some, when aware of Union involvement, have tried to brush it off as a payroll error.
This false information combined with Burger King's approach to promotions (giving someone a black shirt and telling them to run shift) has normalised the underpayment of workers.
Fortunately the Union has been successful in helping five Production Coordinators to get back pay totaling over $3000. Those that are still working for the company have received a pay increase to acknowledge their position and the hard work that they do.
Unite is aware that this is a widespread problem and that there will be many other workers not being paid properly. We will continue to investigate this issue until we are assured all of our members are on the correct rate and have received any back pay they are entitled to.
Organiser for Wellington members.
An opinion piece from Unite Union Executive member Melissa Goodman
A well deserved fist pump broke the air at a recent meeting of Unite union's executive delegates when it was announced that Salaried Managers will join hourly paid crew in negotiating for decent pay and working conditions for the first time ever as part of this year's contract negotiations.
I am a participating member of Unite union's executive, as the elected delegate for Burger King - most recently working as a Shift Supervisor and Assistant Store Manager. As such, I understand first hand that Burger King employees experience some of the lowest pay in the large corporate fast food industry in New Zealand.
Since the union was established just over a decade ago, Unite has represented workers at Burger King with fierce gusto. However, the collective agreement between Antares Restaurants Group Limited (trading as Burger King NZ) and Unite has always been limited to those workers on an hourly wage; excluding those on salaries.
At the same time, a number of supervisor workers are resisting a current push from upper management to move from their current hourly rate to a salaried rate. Although it may be presumed that moving to a salary contract may provide wage security, this move for many already has resulted in: a pathetic hourly pay rate for those expected to work long extended weekly hours and the undercutting of hourly paid workers who are already struggling with no chance of overtime pay. Supervisors are all too aware that the expectation to work long hours and cover for company managed under-staffing is a daily occurrence. For those moving to a salaried rate the chance of being paid a decent wage for the ACTUAL TIME they work is revoked.
Many salaried managers and supervisors are already being paid well below, the already low, market rate; even less if their actual time worked is taken into account. One of Unite's organisers recently came across a manager managing an entire Burger King restaurant on just $16.04 per hour, or perhaps less if you factor in the amount of hours they were expected to work each week.
Burger King and Wendy's are falling way behind in regards to wages when compared to similar fast food outlets. The vast majority of CREW members with no management qualifications or experience at KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks are paid more than this!
To make it worse, Burger King NZ includes the employer's Kiwisaver contribution as part of the salary when advertising and offering salaried positions.
The salary is effectively used to undercut wages, give a false sense of promotion and move workers off the collective agreement and onto individual contracts without a way to collectively negotiate. Less pay for more work, more responsibilities, less flexibility in your working arrangements and a whole lot more stress! Burger King NZ are maintaining their position, destitute of vision, to remain the lowest of the low - a change is desperately needed.
BUT NOW, these diligent, conscientious, tireless and earnest salaried workers will have a chance to collectively push for a decent wage in the first ever collective agreement that includes Burger King's salaried workers in New Zealand. This move from Unite will have a profound impact on Burger King employees because ALL workers need protection from the tirade of unethical practices that feed down to all levels of the corporate hierarchy.
Negotiations between Unite and Antares Restaurant Group Ltd are due to commence in August.
An 18 year old Burger King employee was assaulted by management on Sunday the 19th of February for monitoring temperature levels in an overheated and understaffed Burger King restaurant on Lincoln Road in West Auckland.
Workers had been forced to work in 33 degree heat and been refused rest breaks for up to five hours as the drive through backed up. Crew took it upon themselves to get a thermometer from nearby Burger Fuel workers, record the temperature at 33 degrees and call the air conditioning repair company after restaurant management failed to take action.
Unite Union has repeatedly warned senior company management of their responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for its employees. Specifically we have on a number of occasions raised concerns about the inadequate air conditioning at the Lincoln Road restaurant and the company's failure to provide employees with needed rest breaks for health and safety reasons.
In 2015 workers at Burger King Lincoln Road walked off shift after being subjected to temperatures as high as 34.5 degrees and a disgusting fly infestation in the kitchen.
Workers and the union have been met with repeated delay, excuses and have been provided with incorrect information since reporting the widespread non provision of breaks at Lincoln Road Burger King last year.
Managers at the same restaurant have remained on staff after assaulting other workers. Workers have been rostered to continue working alongside people who have assaulted them rather than being separated to ensure their health and safety. The company has also disciplined and terminated workers who have defended themselves against assault. The comment by the manager who said "The customers are more important" tells us where the company's priorities lie, and its not with the welfare of their employees.
Yesterday's incident at Burger King Lincoln Road was immediately reported to West Auckland police who took a statement and explained that they will be making contact with the assailant.
The entire incident was captured on CCTV, which we are asking the company provide to unite union and have advised the police to obtain as part of their investigation. The company had previously attempted to conceal CCTV footage showing another manager assaulting another young female crew member in the same restaurant in 2012. [see link below]
Unite union organiser Gary Cranston will be representing another manager from Burger King's West City restaurant this week who was terminated by the company after defending herself against a violent customer who had verbally and physically attacked staff causing serious injuries. In this case the customer had made public complaints about the manager on Facebook that turned out to be untrue. The manager was terminated despite other workers at the store, loyal customers and even mall security presenting a petition to the company asking not to sack the manager because she was acting in defence of herself and her coworkers. Perhaps because Antares Group, who owns the BK franchise in New Zealand really does believe that "the customers are more important" than the welfare of their employees.
For comment contact Gary Cranston
Fast Food Organiser
West Auckland - Northland
029 4555 979
By Anna Burns-Francis Reporter
Hardworking Kiwis keeping our fast-food and hospitality industries afloat are technically employed, but they’re not guaranteed any work.
They’re hired on zero-hour contracts, and for the second week in a row, Mohammad Ismail’s been given zero hours’ work at Burger King.
“It’s rubbish,” says Mr Ismail. “I only get $14.25 per hour – you can’t survive on it. No one would like to work for just two hours.”
So what does the Employment Minister Michael Woodhouse think of the contract?Read more