Fast food chain workers have gone on strike over pay negotiations last week, only to have them denied by the owner, Restaurant Brand.
The company, which announced a profit of $26 million on Thursday, up nearly $2 million from 2016, has denied requests of a 10-cent rise for the next three years.
Just under 2,000 fast food workers stopped working at midday this past Saturday 22 causing dozens of stores to shut down, including, KFC, Pizza Hut, Carls Jr, and Starbucks.
Restaurant Brands has rejected the proposal from the union for a rise of 10 cents an hour each year over three years above the minimum wage movement for the lowest paid workers.
This would have taken worker pay to 30 cents an hour above the minimum wage by 2019. The living wage has recently been increased to $20.20 while minimum wage still sits at $15.75.
The strikers also aimed to get the shift supervisors, who train staff and manage the day-to-day running of their restaurants, a 75-cent rise over the next three years, in recognition of their extra responsibilities.
Although the company has denied the request of 30 cents they have still agreed to raise the wages over time.
The brand has commented on the situation, claiming it was the first place to offer fixed working hours and pay security.
"The overall package of terms and conditions of our employees is better than our competitors in the sector and includes a faster pathway for new employees to increase their pay rates,” says CEO Russel Creedy.
“We are an important first job opportunity for many of our employees.”
Gerald Hehir, Unite National secretary, argues against the brand's comments, saying that workers often are experienced and deserve a higher wage.
“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 a food production facility.”
“This is a stark example of the growing gap between rich and poor and the Unite Union members at Restaurant Brands are taking action to close the gap a little bit,” says Hehir. “While Restaurant Brands have been paying huge bonuses and dividends and buying up large overseas, their workers are overworked and underpaid.”
Unite has very recently reached an agreement with McDonald's that gives workers 30 cents above the minimum wage in the next three years as well as shift supervisors a living wage and a redundancy payment.
Creedy says that although it has denied the current request, the company will be raising wages shortly.
"As opposed to McDonald’s offer to increase entry level staff to $0.30 cents above adult minimum wage in three years time, our proposal is to move them now – paying $0.10c above the adult minimum wage at entry, then after 5 weeks increase by $0.20c, then after 10 weeks increase another $0.20c per hour," says Creedy.
“In total for KFC staff, who are entry level and subsequently completing food handling training, we’re offering an increase of $0.50c above the adult minimum wage after just 10 weeks at work.“
“It’s disappointing that union rejected our offer for new KFC staff in training after the Union accepted McDonald’s offer of just $0.10 per hour above the adult minimum wage," says Creedy.
Of the major employers in the fast food sector, Restaurant Brands already leads the sector for guaranteed days and hours of permanent work and security of pay.