Matt McCarten’s Unite Union is noted for its innovative and determined approach to low-paid workers’ struggles. Now it has a new ally. Doesn’t have a name, so I’ll just call it Cheesy for now, though some are no doubt calling it Nigel.

Yep, UNITE have deployed a 20 foot high inflatable rat in their current struggle at Sky City:

“We wanted to tell the new SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrision not to be a rat and treat his staff decently,” said Unite National Director Mike Treen.

“After all he is one of New Zealand’s highest paid CEOs yet proposes to pay his workers the minimum wage and a wage offer to the rest of his staff that is less than the inflation rate.”

It’s the same old story. New Australian CEO thinks he’ll show the kiwi unions who’s boss. Where have we heard that story before?

Speaking of the low-paid workers and “dirty employers”, a former employee at a McDonald’s franchise in Kaiapoi has won $15,000 compensation for being constructively dismissed after joining Unite. (Decision here.) Treen says:

“… the union often has problems with McDonald’s franchise operators in complying with their legal obligations. They often take the decision of their employees to join the union as a personal affront.”

Fast food workers are often vulnerable as they are employed as “casuals” with no fixed hours of work. This allows the boss to punish or effectively dismiss workers simply by reducing or eliminating their hours. Unite is pushing for “security of hours” to be included in a new Collective Agreement with McDonald’s.

I heard a McDonald’s Restaurants (New Zealand) Ltd manager on the radio this morning being quoted as saying that many workers wanted the flexibility, but this is not in the on-line report and there is no press release on the McDonald’s site. Anyway, you decide where the truth lies.

Update: Anna McM at the Handmirror posts on Chantelle Coup’s victory.

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2 Responses to “Rats”

  1. Anna McM Says:

    I’ve been writing about this over at THM. You’ve got to hand it to Unite for their sheer determination in the face of horrible employers.

  2. macdoctor01 Says:

    Nice rat. Unfortunately likely to be given some hard cheese…

    Your problem with casual workers is that any move towards forcibly making them part-time workers will be hugely detrimental to students trying to pick up casual hours. Any thoughts on how to get around that?

    MacDoc, tertiary students tell me that they would prefer the security of part-time work. This is partly because, in practice, “casualisation” means flexible rostering by the employer, for the employer, with their needs taken into account when it suits.

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