By John Crocker, Unite Union Industrial Officer
On the 4th of August the Employment Court released its first judgment on ‘availability provisions’ in employment agreements. This judgment was eagerly awaited by unions, companies, HR and employment lawyers as it is the first guidance by the court on the correct interpretation of ss 67C & 67D of the Employment Relations Act. These sections, among others, were added by amendment under the Employment Standards Bill 2015. Those two sections are the operative sections that ban zero-hour contracts.
Protest against zero hour contracts during 2015 negotiations. Court case this year followed the law change to ban such contacts.
Kaylee Tantrum (17) was backpaid just over $1000 for work that was not assigned to her because her rostering documentation was falsified without her knowledge.
Kaylee, who works at a McDonald's restaurant in a food court in Wellsford told Unite union organiser Gary Cranston that she was instructed to write her signature on an availability form that was later found to have a minimum hours of work per week written on it, as if she had agreed to this prior to signing it.
"I was instructed to sign it before the new number was written there." - "I signed my new form before the new security of hours (4) was written there. I also did not agree to 4 hours being my security of hours. I have enough time for my studies and would never have agreed to make my hours 4 for this reason." - Kaylee Tantrum
To make things worse, once contacted by email by Unite union, the Restaurant Manager, Mr Rajinder Singh attempted to hold an unscheduled private meeting with Ms Tantrum without a support person present. Mr Singh told Ms Tantrum that she was incorrect and that her number had been "miscalculated". He then went on to deny having received Unite's email raising the matter, claiming that his McDonald's email address wasn't working.
In Kaylee's case her number was changed without her consent, agreement or knowledge and this resulted in a significant drop in her weekly rostered hours for a number of months as they were then cut below what her weekly secure hours number should have been set to. This meant that Kaylee had to be available for shifts at short notice in an attempt to stop her income from dropping.
Such "security of hours" numbers were introduced by Unite union as part of the outlawing of Zero Hour contracts at McDonald's in 2015. Unfortunately it isn't the first time we've discovered workers having their secure hours manipulated without their (required) consent.
"We have discovered many cases of McDonald's workers having their guaranteed hours number changed by store management without the knowledge or agreement of workers" said Mr Cranston. "This seems to have been done in order to drive down worker's secure hours per week, giving store management increased control over a worker's income and leverage over worker's rostering arrangements that used to be enabled by zero hour contracts."
While Unite union is proud to announce that we have since secured 100% guaranteed hours for workers in this year's contract negotiations (it was previously a guarantee of o80% of hours worked prior) this is still dependent on accurate record keeping and good faith based arrangements between workers and store management because workers and management can mutually agree to change a worker's guaranteed (minimum) hours of work per week.
Several other workers have come forward saying that the same thing happened to them since and Unite union is pursuing these complaints.
If you work at McDonald's and suspect that store management have altered your secure hours number without your consent you should contact your Unite union organiser immediately.
"We will be pursuing all cases of falsification of worker's guaranteed hours numbers as cases of fraud going forward", said Mr Cranston.
Hans Punsalan (19) was backpaid $2,909 after claiming he was left on minimum wage, cooking at a KFC in West Auckland for a year and a half.
After initially claiming that Hans was not entitled to backpay because "Hans was never left alone to cook unsupervised", which was not true, the company then failed to specify who exactly was allegedly supervised him - not that being supervised would have precluded him from being eligible to be paid the full KFC cook's pay rate.
Hans was backpaid KFC's $2.50 per hour cooks allowance for over 800 hours of hard work at KFC New Lynn, and another 700 hours backpay for not having the opportunity to complete some basic training that entitles KFC workers to a pay increase.
Restaurant Brands which operates KFC stores in New Zealand had stated in communications to its workforce that the $2.50 an hour cooks allowance recognised the work of cooks as a "crucial activity within the KFC business", "in particular, the training required to qualify as a KFC cook, the complexity of the routines & processes involved in the cooking process, the critical function the role plays in food safety, the actual physical nature of the activities involved and the importance of the role to the ultimate success of the restaurant."
So, certainly not a minimum wage job.
Is the Fast Food Lead Organiser for Auckland and Northland
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.
New Zealand Labour News
A budget analysis by the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) showed the Health Budget shortfall to be $215m nationwide, declared the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO)."Health workforce training, contracted services, maternity services and public health service funding alone is short $36m. Inadequate funding for preventative health care and community nursing results in more people going to the hospitals, which is not the way to keep New Zealanders well, or the best use of public funds," said NZNO Chief Executive Memo Musa and President Grant Brookes. Brookes warned the "lack of investment" in the workforce could be the tipping point that forced many in the "aging nurse workforce" to retire or quit. "New Zealand is facing new public health threats because of the increased movement of people, animals and food around the world, and this, combined with environmental effects of climate change, mean the public health budget must incorporate funds for these contingencies," he said.
Yes we Care protests against health funding cutsRead more
Unite is looking for part-time organisers in Canterbury and Otago.
We are looking for a part-time organiser to work with our current Christchurch based organiser and another part-time organiser based in Dunedin to look after our Otago and Southland members.Read more
As the election gets closer, everyone has an opinion on what needs to be done for their party to be successful.
We are actually living in a bit of an economic and political bubble. Employment is up. Many people don’t feel too badly off. The economy has done better than those in Europe or the US. Much of this is a consequence of the “wealth effect” from a speculative property boom that benefits property owners at least. This is coming to an end sooner rather than later. The other driver of growth has been population growth through immigration which is also being wound down by the government.
On a world scale, capitalism will enter a new recession over the next year or two which will have unpredictable consequences.
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.
By Andrew Dean
(Reprinted from Stuff)