McDonald's and Unite Union reach agreement on zero hours

Albie Campbell leads chants as McDonald's workers protest zero hour contracts in Wellington earlier this year.
Ashten Macdonald

Albie Campbell leads chants as McDonald's workers protest zero hour contracts in Wellington earlier this year.

Unite Union and McDonald's have reached a "historic" agreement that will stamp out zero-hour contracts and resolve other employment issues in dispute.

Union members and McDonald's staff took to the picket lines this year to protest the fast food giant's working conditions, with more strike action planned for today.

However, those gatherings will now become "victory celebrations" after the pair finally settled on a new collective agreement.

Unite national director Mike Treen said it was a historic agreement, as all the of the major fast food chains had now committed to ending zero hours.

The employment agreements, which give workers no guarantee how many hours they will get each week, have come under close scrutiny from unions and politicians.

Both Burger King and Restaurant Brands, which owns the KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Carl's Jr franchises, have already pledged to end the zero-hour contracts this year.

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*Restaurant Brands scraps zero hour contracts 

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"This is the culmination of a decade long campaign for secure hours by Unite Union," said Treen.

"It will be welcomed tens of thousands of workers in the fast food industry and hundreds of thousands more who will ultimately benefit in other industries."

The new agreement means 80 per cent of hours worked over a three month period will be guaranteed, beginning in July. A survey on hours worked will be carried out every three months, which will allow the secure hours to increase over time.

The new clause will be reviewed in March 2016 to see how it is working.

Treen said while strike action had been called off, in some cases it was too late to cancel planned gatherings. He asked supporters not to interfere with access to the stores and instead hold victory celebrations.

"We haven't finalised all details in the agreement but we are convinced there is good will on both sides to work through the remaining issues without further protests being required," he said.

Treen thanked people for their support during the union's campaign, and called on the Government to turn the decision into law for other workers in the country.

A McDonald's spokesperson confirmed the company had settled on terms with the union.

"We know that having security of hours is important to our people, which is why on April 13 we announced that a guarantee of hours would be formally written into our employment agreements," she said.

"Since April 13 we have been working through the technical detail with Unite, along with other elements of the agreement."

The Government may outlaw zero-hour contracts once the findings of a review into the practice are released.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse asked officials to review the legislation late last year.

 - Stuff

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