KFC, Pizza Hut, Carls Jr, Starbucks workers go on strike

Restaurant Brands announced a profit of $26 million yesterday, but would not offer a 30 cent pay rise to staff.
REBEKAH PARSONS-KING/FAIRFAX NZ

Restaurant Brands announced a profit of $26 million yesterday, but would not offer a 30 cent pay rise to staff.

Strike action could close  several fast-food chains on Saturday.

Some KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr, and Starbucks restaurants around the country could close on Saturday as staff walk off the job for more pay.

Workers from  the chains, owned by Restaurant Brands, plan to go on strike after the company refused a pay rise of 10 cents an hour each year, for three years.

Staff at all Restaurant Brands restaurants, which include KFC, Pizza Hut, Carls Jr, and Starbucks, would go on strike.
REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI

Staff at all Restaurant Brands restaurants, which include KFC, Pizza Hut, Carls Jr, and Starbucks, would go on strike.

That rise would increase workers' pay to 30c an hour above the minimum wage by 2019.

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Shift supervisor Tawera Paapu, 29, was sick of being on a lower wage than the cooks she often trained.

"As a supervisor you're trained to do front of house, all the paperwork, and you're also trained on cooking. Whereas the cooks only know the cooking area, and they're getting roughly $1.80 more than me," she said.

The refusal to increase pay comes after Restaurant Brands announced on Thursday a profit of $26 million after tax , up $1.9m from the previous year.

Unite union national director Mike Treen said: "Some stores will definitely close. We need to show we're serious."

"Our three main concerns are getting workers off the minimum wage, getting supervisors onto a living wage, and pay equity," Treen said.

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KFC supervisors, who were mostly women, were being paid $1.80 an hour less than cooks who were mostly men. Cooks were given a $2.50 pay rise last year.

Unite national secretary Gerard Hehir said something needed to be done.

"Unite doesn't begrudge KFC cooks getting a pay-rise, they deserve a living wage as well, but it has highlighted just how underpaid the shift supervisors are.

"These are not school kids. They are qualified and experienced workers, who can run a store on their own - managing staff, managing a retail store and [managing] a food production facility. They deserve a living wage and Restaurant Brands can afford to pay them a living wage," said Hehir.

The Government announced a $2 billion package to address pay inequity in the predominantly female aged-care sector this week.

It was expected to have a flow-on effect to other industries, and the Government hoped it would encourage businesses to make greater moves to address the overall gender pay gap in New Zealand.

"We think the new pay equity processes may apply and we are gathering information to begin that process," Hehir said.

In October, Restaurant Brands bought Pacific Island Restaurants, the sole Pizza Hut and Taco Bell operator in Hawaii and Guam, with 82 stores.

It's expected to add $180 million in annual revenues to the company.

"They have paid their chief executive a million-dollar bonus. Tomorrow the workers, who actually make and sell their products, have to go on strike to get a few cents above the minimum wage," Hehir said.

Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy was paid a $1m bonus in 2015 for keeping the company's share price above $4 a share for 40 consecutive trading days.

Unite also accused Restaurant Brands of refusing to offer redundancy payment for workers. Workers are given one week's notice if they are fired.

From noon on Saturday workers from all the restaurants will protest outside six KFC restaurants around the country.

Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy would not answer questions about why cooks were paid more than shift supervisors.

In a statement Creedy said the company had made an offer to workers that was rejected and it was disappointed workers were striking.

 - Stuff

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