National | Food

Fast food workers make stand at Auckland KFC

Members of Unite Union stormed through a West Auckland KFC during strike action claiming that Restaurant Brands is refusing to match minimum wage increases and seriously understaffing restaurants among their three companies, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and KFC.

Unite Union representative Jeremy Roundill says, “Every time we protest members of the union enter the stores to bring other workers out.”

“They're struggling because they're trying to meet ends to pay for renting and mortgages so there's a lot of pressure on their staff to make ends meet.”

The Lincoln Rd KFC drive-thru and front door were blocked to customers preventing the company from making money.

Around 1500 union members are on strike, including Tawera Paapu. She's worked at KFC for the past four years and wants better pay than what she makes currently, which is just over $20 an hour.

Paapu says, “I think they're underestimating how much our value is in this company. That's the whole point of this strike. You see, without us, you don't have a company. We can't make all your money if we're not in the store running it and, therefore, you should value us.”

She says, “I'm a senior member at my store and I'm getting the same as a cook that I train. If the cooks can get trained and get the same pay as me, why would I be responsible for a store?”

In a statement, Restaurant Brands said the weighted average increase across existing staff is 5.7%. The company says these increases continue to see Restaurant Brands as the leading employer in the Quick Service Restaurant sector for pay and conditions for staff and includes a faster pathway for new employees to increase their skills and build their careers.

Unite Union says that Restaurant Brands made a profit of $36 million last year and paid its shareholders $881 million.

“There's about four stores in Auckland who earn over $100k a week. They're saying if they give us more pay they can hire less workers but it doesn't work that way because they're making a skyrocket profit and we're seeing none of that to help us,” says Paapu.

Restaurant Brands told Te Ao Māori, KFC and Carl's Jr. employees are seeking increases of over 7% on all existing wage rates. An outcome will be announced after an agreement has been reached.