Burger King staff on strike across NZ

By Jessica Tyson

Burger King union members across the country are taking strike action today over pay, hours and working conditions.

Unite Union spokesperson Gerard Hehir says workers are sick of low pay rates, working unpaid hours and not getting breaks.

"They are sick of having some of the lowest pay rates amongst major fast food companies, sick of working unpaid hours, sick of not getting their breaks and sick of Burger King not sticking to agreements," he says.

Over 90 percent of union members, around 200 staff are taking part in the strikes today.

Pickets around the country have been organised at restaurants in Rotorua, Wellington, Palmerston North, Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland.

"We're doing pickets at West City today at midday, bringing workers all over the city and then at dinner time from 5pm onwards at Dominion Rd Burger King.”

The union found that salaried managers who supervise staff and manage stores on their own are sometimes working for less than the minimum wage. 

“They are routinely expected to not take breaks and to work extra hours without pay or time off.  When your hourly rate is just $16.88 - only 34 cents above the minimum wage, you only have to work around one hour unpaid a week to go below the minimum wage."

Meanwhile, Burger King New Zealand general manager James Woodbridge told Rereātea, "Having taken the step to pay all employees above minimum wage earlier this year, Burger King still remains bargaining in good faith with Unite Union and it is very disappointing that Unite Union have opted to take industrial action whilst this process is underway.

"Burger King New Zealand has and continues to work constructively with Unite Union on collective bargaining negotiations.  The health, safety and well-being of all our employees and customers is and remains of paramount importance to us, and until these negotiations have concluded, we are not in a position to comment publically on any issues relating to them until they have been resolved within the appropriate forum."

Unite Union has asked the Labour Inspectorate to investigate the matter further.