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McDonald's workers claim 'wage stealing'

By Jessica Beresford

Published: 12:51PM Wednesday May 22, 2013 Source: ONE News

A New Zealand union has today filed an Employment Relations Authority complaint against McDonald's claiming the fast food chain has not been paying workers for breaks they are entitled to.

Talks between McDonald's and Unite Union for increased wages broke down last month and workers have since been picketing outside the stores for better working conditions.

Unite national director Mike Treen said the union had records from two of Auckland's McDonald's stores claiming a consistent pattern of not paying for lost lunch breaks.

"The law stipulates that workers who work a 4-6 hour shift must receive an unpaid 30 minute break. The collective agreement stipulates that if they miss the break they must be paid for the 30 minutes."

Treen claimed McDonald's had ignored the law and the contract.

"They also ignore the requirement for proper scheduling of breaks with the workers' agreement.

A spokesperson for McDonald's said the company would not be commenting on the allegation until it had a full understanding of the case.

"This is in the context of our collective employment agreement negotiations with Unite, which broke down one month ago," the spokesperson said.

"Since then we have been in dispute and the union have been exercising their right to industrial protest."

McDonald's worker Sean Bailey said it was not good enough to deny employees the breaks they were entitled to.

"It's quite unbelievable that [McDonald's] is stealing wages from employees, considering they are a multi-national company and they earn a lot of money."

Treen said 85% of the 1700 McDonald's workers who were part of the union had voted in favour of continuing action for a new collective agreement.

"Our back pay claim and a proper breaks scheduling at McDonald's will be part of our claims."

McDonald's said it was committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith with the union.