KFC workers to start three-day strike over the weekend

Headlines 17/05/2019

Friday night takeaways could be delayed as hundreds of fast-food workers go on strike.

Unite Union says its members at KFC, Carl's Jr and Pizza Hut will walk off the job at 2pm on Friday, and won't be back until after the weekend.

National secretary Gerard Hehir says there are a number of issues owner Restaurant Brands has to answer for, including pay, understaffing, use of part-time contracts, cuts to overtime and a push for shortened breaks.

He says KFC managers often find themselves working with up to half their rostered crew missing.

"We receive daily reports from stressed-out staff unable to take breaks, reeling from angry customers and unable to ensure the stores are clean and correct food preparation procedures are followed," said Hehir.

"We want Restaurant Brands to give managers the power to actually take action when they're severely short-staffed - that means closing the drive-thru, closing the store for half-an-hour" or cancelling online orders.

"They used to have the authority to do that."

Restaurant Brands is also allegedly trying to shorten union members' paid breaks from 15 minutes to 10, the bare minimum under laws that came in recently.

Unite's also accusing them of shortchanging skilled and experienced employees. With the recent rise in the minimum wage, Restaurant Brands has been forced to up what it pays its newest staff - but Unite says skilled staff are set to pay the cost, with proposed new rates only 25c higher than the starting rate, when it used to be 80c.

"Low wage employers need to realise that they can't get away with just increasing their lowest rate only and undervaluing their experienced and skilled staff."

And the union has accused Restaurant Brands of hiring new staff to fill vacancies with "only one or two guaranteed shifts" rather than let existing staff take them, because they might have to pay overtime rates.

Eighty-eight percent of Unite's membership that took part in the secret ballot voted in favour of strike action.

In response, Restaurant Brands said it was offering an average 5.7 percent increase in wages, but Unite was demanding 7 percent.

"These increases also balance the impact of minimum wage increases with the need to minimise increases to the consumer," said NZ chief executive Arif Khan, noting that Restaurant Brands was the first major fast food company in New Zealand to scrap zero-hour contracts, after a previous Unite campaign.

"Restaurant Brands apologises if any customers are impacted during this period."

The two parties have been in negotiations for six days, Unite said.

Credit to Newshub.