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Meeting Supports Campaign against Low Wages

Town Hall Meeting Supports Campaign against Low Wages

Press Release: Unite/SuperSizeMyPay.Com
Monday, 13 February 2006, 3pm

Town Hall Meeting Supports campaign against low wages

Over 1000 fast food workers and their supporters filled the Town Hall yesterday to give added impetus to the SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign and to other low paid workers campaigns.

The SuperSizeMyPay.Com fast food campaign is being spearheaded by the Unite Union but is supported by the wider union movement and a broad range of community groups.


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Amy Valk, a 19-year-old worker from McDonald’s Glenfield Rd, said after the meeting that it was “awesome that we are not alone and the community supports us. It is ridiculous how much wages had been slashed since the 1980s and we will have to take widespread industrial action to win our demands. This meeting gives me the confidence that we can strike in my store.”

Campaign coordinator Simon Oosterman said the meeting represented a big step forward in community support for these workers. “Low paid and minimum wage workers are challenging some of the largest international companies (McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s and Starbucks) and the more support they can get the stronger our campaign will be”, he said.

Unite President Matt McCarten told the meeting that fast food workers real wages had halved in the last 20 years – a consequence he blamed on the fact that workers in the fast food industry have not been unionised for a generation. “There comes a time in our lives when we have to make a stand for justice. Today is one of those moments’, he said

Mr Oosterman said that fast-food workers at the meeting voted unanimously to take further action, including industrial action, to support their claims for $12 minimum per hour, an end to youth rates and secure hours of work.

“This action will unfold in coming days while negotiations continue with McDonalds, Restaurant Brands (KFC, Starbucks and Pizzahut) and Burger King. A major day of action across the whole fast-food sector is planned for Saturday March 18 and has been dubbed “the Big Pay Out”. This will involve a march up Queen Street and a free concert with supporting artists at Myers Park. A website for the day is already established at www.bigpayout.co.nz” he concluded.

The Town Hall meeting also threw its support behind Green MP Sue Bradford’s private members bill to abolish youth rates which will be debated in parliament next week.

ENDS

Speakers at the meeting yesterday included –

- Delegates from Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds stores that have already been involved in strike action

- Carol Beaumont, Secretary, Council of Trade Unions

- Sue Bradford, Green MP

- Pita Sharples, Maori Party MP

- Laila Harre, National Secretary, National Distribution Union

- Lynda Kerr, Foodtown Supermarket Delegate for the National Distribution Union

- Matt McCarten, President of the Unite Unions

- Donna Wynd from the Child Poverty Action .

- Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua, Pacific community worker

- Ruth DeSouza, migrant researcher/academic

- Lisa Eldridge, Auckland Secretary, Service and Food Workers Union

Comedians, musicians and artists who performed included:
Olmecha Supreme – Imon Star; Geneva with Starbucks worker Barnaby Marshal; NZ Idol and former KFC worker Rosita Vai

Statistics cited in Matt McCarten’s speech to the rally comparing 1984 to the present in current dollars:

- A lowest full time worker got $510 a week. Now it’s $380. A drop of $130. That’s 25% less.

- The lowest hourly rate paid was $13.10 an hour. Now its $9.50. A drop of $3.60 each hour worked. That’s 28% less.

- Any overtime was paid $19.65 for the first three hours and then it was $26.20 after that. Now it’s just a flat rate of $9.50. That’s over $10 an hour difference. A 50% drop.

- Full-timers working on Saturday or a Sunday now get $9.50 an hour. They used to get $19.65 an hour on Saturday (a drop of over 50%) and on Sunday got $26.20. Almost three times more than they get now.

- Hourly workers got $14.35 an hour on Saturdays and $19.65 on Sundays.

- Many workers now have to work six and seven days a week. For that they get guaranteed two hours work at $9.50 for each hour. In 1984 you got a minimum $104.80 for walking through the door on these days as you had to be paid for four hours. Even if a worker now worked fours as well it would only be $38. That’s a third of what you used to be paid.

- The shift allowances for working evenings, the travel allowance of over $9 a day and laundry allowance of $5.55 a day have all gone. Guaranteed service pay rises each year is also a thing of the past.

- Even the 4 hours guaranteed hours of work have slipped to two hours and three hours.

- What does this mean to us now? Well, take a fulltime worker on 40 hours a week Wednesday to Sunday. This person got $782 a week. That’s $40,665 a year. For the same hours this person gets $380 a week today. That’s less than $20,000 a year. Less than half than they used to get.

- Take a part time worker working 5 hours a day, Wednesday to Sunday. They used to get $426. Now it’s $238. A 44% drop.

- Finally take a 17 year old working in the weekends for 10 hours. They used to get $181. Now they get $76. A difference of $115 for the same hours and a 58% cut.

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