February 9, 2006

Fast Food Workers Reject Final Pay Offer in New Zealand

Fast Food Workers Reject Final Pay Offer in New Zealand

Fast food workers from the SuperSizeMyPay.com campaign voted 100% against the Restaurant Brands’ final offer at a stopwork meeting in Auckland today.

Today’s meeting brought together union delegates from KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks stores in Auckland who voted unanimously against the company’s offer, and restated their support for the SuperSizeMyPay.Com demands of a $12 minimum wage, an end to youth rates and secure hours.

Susan Tuaniu, a mother of five and shift supervisor at Lincoln Rd KFC said that the company’s offer would only give her an extra $20 in the hand each week and would decrease the pay difference for people with more responsibility.

“I led a strike at my store because the minimum wage increase of 75c on March 27 won’t alleviate poverty. Many workers will still have to remain on benefits to supplement their income and New Zealanders will continue to subsidise big businesses like Restaurant Brands. Our $12 an hour claim is a first step against poverty wages”

Sam Van der Kolk, 15, a KFC worker from Balmoral, who currently earns $7.13 an hour, said that he was disappointed that the while the company had recognised that youth rates were unfair by promising to remove them in 3-5 years their offer meant a pay rise to only $8.76. This is still well below the new minimum adult wage of $10.25.

“It will take 3 years of doing exactly the same job as my older co-workers until I get the same pay. The majority of my mates at work are under 18, we went on strike because people should get equal pay for equal work” he said.

Parnell Starbucks shift-manager has to do several part-time jobs because she can’t get guaranteed hours. “Many of my friends who joined the Starbucks strike have their hours and shifts constantly changing each week,” she said.

SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign co-ordinator, Simon Oosterman, said that now that the workers had rejected the company’s final offer, that they would take the message to the general public and customers for support, before taking widespread industrial action.

“The SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign began with short two-hour, non-disruptive strikes at a Starbucks, KFC and Pizza Hut. The goal of these actions was to draw public attention to the plight of low paid workers in New Zealand, not to disrupt customers. Many fast food customers are on minimum wages themselves and Restaurant Brands was notified of each strike in advance” he said.

“Restaurant Brands have not listen to the workers, nor have they listened to community groups such as Make Poverty History, the Council of Trade Unions and the Green Party who support our workers demands. If Restaurant Brands doesn’t listen to the broader public and their customers workers will be forced to take industrial action to win their demands. Workers cannot continue to face their lives being disrupted by insecure hours and poverty wages” said Mr Oosterman.

The broader public have been invited to a mass rally and stop work meeting in the Auckland Town Hall on Sunday February 12 at 2pm to support the campaign. It will be hosted by Rhombus lead singer, Imon Star and will hear accounts of the effects of poverty wages on fast food workers. The rally has been organised by Unite Union with the support of the National Distribution Union which represents many similarly low-paid workers in retail and distribution.

Simon Oosterman is available for interview on 0274 555 789

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