Union picket puzzles KFC chief

KFC in Great King St North, where today's strike is planned. PHOTO: Gerard O'Brien
KFC in Great King St North, where today's strike is planned. PHOTO: Gerard O'Brien

Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy has expressed disappointment a strike outside several KFC outlets is going ahead today.

A combined picket would be held outside KFC Dunedin North from noon until 2pm, Unite Union national secretary Gerard Hehir said.

It will be the first strike at Restaurant Brands in about 10 years.

Mr Creedy said that of the major employers in the fast food sector, Restaurant Brands led the sector for fixed hours of work and security of pay.

The Consumer Price Index had risen between 5% to 6% since 2012. In that time, Restaurant Brands had increased wage rates by 17%, he said.

Restaurant Brands operated KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Carl's Jr brands in New Zealand.

The company reported operating earnings of $39.3 million for the year ended February on Thursday. The reported profit after tax rose 7.8% in the period to $26 million.

Mr Creedy said the company was the first in the fast food sector to scrap zero-hour contracts to guarantee minimum hours for staff and to proactively negotiate permanent days and hours of work for all staff.

``The overall package of terms and conditions of our employees is better than our competitors in the sector and includes a faster pathway for new employees to increase their pay rates.''

Restaurant Brands was an important first job opportunity for many of its employees and it was disappointing Unite Union had rejected the offer to pay entry level positions above the adult minimum wage from day one, Mr Creedy said.

Mr Hehir said the profit and the payment of a $1 million bonus to Mr Creedy was a stark example of the growing gap between rich and poor.

Unite Union members at Restaurant Brands were taking action to close the gap.

``While Restaurant Brands have been paying huge bonuses and dividends and buying up large overseas, their workers are overworked and underpaid.''

The union claimed Restaurant Brands had rejected a ``very modest'' proposal for a rise of 10c an hour each year over three years above the minimum wage movement for the lowest paid workers. That would take their pay to 30c an hour above the minimum wage by 2019.

Unite also wanted shift supervisors, skilled and experienced staff who were able to run stores on their own, to get increases over three years to move them towards a living wage.

The takeaway:
  • Picket outside KFC Dunedin North from noon until 2pm.
  • Unite Union says Restaurant Brands rejected ‘‘modest proposal’’.
  • Restaurant Brands says it is a sector leader for fixed hours of work and security of pay.



Ten cents extra an hour?... That really tells it all!