Enclosed is the latest edition of your New Zealand Labour Letter. 2015 marks 20 years of AIL in New Zealand and we look forward to continuing to serve the labour community. The online publication of the New Zealand Labour Letter is provided as a service to Labour by AIL of New Zealand Ltd.
April 2015, Vol. 6 No. 4
National Labour News
Unite Union negotiated a new pact with Restaurant Brands that ends zero hour contracts by July. Unite has 2000 members at the chain which includes KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks stores. "This is a gigantic step forward for workers in the fast food industry," said Unite National Director Mike Treen. According to the union, the proposal promises staff at least 80 per cent of the average hours will be guaranteed using a three month rolling average of hours worked up to a maximum of 32 hours a week. The union said McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's are still refusing to move meaningfully on the issue. "It is time for New Zealanders to tell these profitable multi-national chains that they need to stop taking advantage of their often young and vulnerable workers and put an end to a labour practice that the people of New Zealand have made clear they find unacceptable," he said. Union members approved an industrial and public campaign to pressure these companies into ending zero hour contracts. Unite also will join the international day of action by fast food workers on April 15.
NZ Council of Trade Unions April 1 presented a petition on the steps of Parliament with more than 1000 signatures which called on the Government to ban the importation of asbestos and develop a comprehensive plan for the removal of all existing asbestos in New Zealand. The petition was accepted by Labour leader Andrew Little and will go to a select committee which will study it and decide what should be done. "Asbestos is the biggest workplace killer in New Zealand. It kills at least 170 workers annually, more than twice as many workers as accidental deaths at work. The number of people dying from asbestos related diseases (lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis) is increasing and the Government projections are that it will peak at 300 deaths annually, higher than the road toll," said CTU Secretary, Sam Huggard. He said New Zealand was "out of step" with other developed countries which have banned all products that contain asbestos.
It seems some companies are surrendering on zero hours without a shot being fired. We had a discussion this morning at the Unite office about extending Unite's organising drive into other fast food joints like Hell's Pizza, Burger Fuel and Domino's. This afternooon we got the news that Hell's Pizza were going to stop using zero hour contracts. This is their statement.
Hell has no time for zero-hour contracts
The recent focus on zero-hour employment contracts has lead Hell to review and revise its policy regarding the practice. From today, employees of all 65 Hell Pizza franchises are guaranteed fixed weekly hours, which will be reflected in new employment contracts by June 1 2015.
Hell general manager Ben Cumming says: “Zero-hour contracts have been an industry norm for quite some time. Hell strives to be a desirable and well-regarded employer; we believe all of our franchisees have acted in good faith in regards to employees’ hours of work. As such, we don’t foresee the change having any material effect on our operations or staff.”
Dear Maccas, Burger King and Wendy's,
I urge you to end zero hours contracts which are a form of worker exploitation and are not a good buisness practice for companies wanting to succeed and grow.
As Pope Francis has often pointed out, such exploitation of workers is against God.
It's time to be honest and provide secure hours for your workers.
Not knowing what hours you will be working or how much will be in your pay packet from week to week is no way to live. People I know are genuinely shocked when they learn how your workers can have their hours and pay slashed from week to week simply because their manager decides so.
This causes so much unecessary stress on working families. Workers on zero hours cannot even get bank loans to buy houses or cars because they have zero hours.
You expect them to turn up to work when you want but don't have the decency to make sure they have enough paid hours each week to feed their families and pay their bills. These sorts of jobs have no place in a modern society.
You run profitable retail businesses with set hours. There is simply no good reason why you can't offer all your workers a guarantee of hours.
I understand that workers at KFC, Pizza Hutt, Carls Jr. and Starbucks will have guaranteed hours from July this year. If Restaurant Brands can do it then why can't you?
You all claim to be good, caring corporate citizens of New Zealand. It's time to prove it.
Rev Chris Sullivan
Unite has now successfully negotiated for all workers at Restaurant Brands (KFC, Pizza Hutt, Starbucks and Carls Jr.) to have guaranteed hours from July this year.
However, McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's have failed to get serious about the issue. Their proposals so far would only guarantee some hours for a tiny fraction of their workforce. They need to get the message that treating their workers like this in the 21st century is unacceptable.
Restaurant Brands delegates meeeting in 2013 had secure hours high on their agenda.
Media Release April 8, 2015
Restaurant Brands which owns the KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks chains has committed to end zero hour contracts by July this year in a new collective agreement negotiated with Unite Union.
NZ workers to join US fast food workers (above) in taking action on April 15.
Fast food workers in New Zealand will be joining an international day of action on April 15 to support an end to the super-exploitation of these vulnerable workers. In the US the cry is $15 and a union. In New Zealand we are demanding “End Zero Hour Contracts Now”.
Negotiations between Unite and all the fast food companies have reached a critical stage. The fight for a better deal has begun at Wendy's with action at a number of stores across the country. Votes to authorise strike action are being held at McDonald's and Burger King. Negotiations are continuing more productively with Restaurant Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks).
Ending zero-hour contracts in 2015
Unite was told by workers that 2015 was the year to end zero-hour contracts. That message was relayed to the companies at the end of negotiations two years ago. We talked about it in blog after blog. We had meetings with the companies over the past two years to remind them to be ready. We met with them again at the end of 2015 and held a fast food workers conference in early December to underline the point.
However, only Restaurant Brands has made even a modest effort to engage meaningfully on the issue. The other companies appear to be just stringing us along until the collective agreements expired on March 31.Read more
College students crippled by educational debt and part-time university faculty are joining fast food workers in their latest action on April 15
If Douglas Hunter succeeds with his plans on April 15, the public’s attention this year may be diverted from grumbling about taxes to demanding higher wages for millions of low-income service workers—including many who earn so little at their jobs that they need public subsidies for a minimal standard of living.
Hunter, 53, is a leader nationally and in Chicago of the Fight for $15, an ambitious campaign that New York City fast food workers launched two-and-a-half years ago. But other cities picked up the call, then other occupations, from retail workers and childcare providers to adjunct professors. It has caught the imagination of the public as well and notched some notable victories, such as a $15 minimum wage in Seattle and Seatac in Washington state, as well as in San Francisco.
“We can’t wait. Jewel isn’t waiting. People’s Gas isn’t waiting,” he says, referencing a Chicago grocery chain and natural gas utility, respectively. “We need higher wages to support our families. Many people thought we were crazy two years ago when we walked off our jobs in New York and demanded $15 an hour. They don’t think we’re crazy now.”Read more
By Michael Taft - Irish Left Review
This Thursday, April 2nd, workers in Dunnes Stores throughout the country are coming out on a one-day strike. In essence, the dispute boils down to two urgent issues.
The first is zero/low hour contracts. Such contracts require employees to be available for work but do not guarantee hours of work. Therefore, workers cannot be assured of their income from one week to the next. And because hours and shifts change, workers cannot plan childcare, eldercare, family time or leisure.
The Dunnes Stores Workers are seeking what is called ‘banded hours’. This means people are rostered in such a manner that they are guaranteed a minimum and maximum number of working hours and, so, income.
McDonald's is finally giving some of its workers a raise.
The fast-food giant on Wednesday announced plans to give employees a 10-percent pay bump and some extra benefits.
The raise will affect about 90,000 workers at a small fraction of McDonald’s stores. Employees at franchises, which make up the majority of the burger chain's locations, won't be affected.
The increase will lift the average hourly wage at McDonald’s to $9.90, and to more than $10 by the end of next year. The rate currently sits at $9.01, according to the Wall Street Journal.
While the fast-food movement may not be close to persuading McDonald’s to adopt a $15 minimum wage, even the campaign’s critics acknowledge it has achieved some of its goals by prompting a national debate about low-wage work and nudging various cities and states to raise their minimum wage.
By Steven Greenhouse
The New York Times
ATLANTA - On a recent Friday, Kwanza Brooks, a $7.25-an-hour McDonald's worker, climbed into a 14-person van to take a four-hour ride from Charlotte, N.C., to Atlanta.
As she and other workers headed south, Ms. Brooks, a short, fiery woman, swapped stories with her companions about unsafe conditions and unfair managers. Upon arriving, they joined more than 400 other people - including home care aides, Walmart workers, child care workers and adjunct professors - at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been a pastor.
The gathering on March 21 was in part a strategy session to plan for the fast-food movement's next big wave of protests, which is now scheduled for April 15. But the meeting was also seeking to be something far more ambitious. Through some strategic alchemy, the organizers hoped the gathering would turn the fast-food workers' fight for a $15 hourly wage into a broad national movement of all low-wage workers that combined the spirit of Depression-era labor organizing with the uplifting power of Dr. King's civil rights campaign.