8 Sep 2008

McDonald's to remind restaurants of union obligations

8:38 pm on 8 September 2008

McDonald's is to remind its restaurant owners and operators how to handle union matters after the Employment Relations Authority ruled a former employee was constructively dismissed two months after joining a union.

The authority ordered a compensation payment of $15,000 to a former employee of Kaiapoi McDonald's, who was constructively dismissed in 2007.

The authority ruled Kaiapoi McDonald's conduct in relation to 18-year-old Chantelle Coup's union membership, and the handing of an incident with another staff member, led to her resignation in August 2007.

McDonald's New Zealand managing director Mark Hawthorne says he believes the company has good procedures for dealing with union memberships in its restaurants.

However, it is sending information to restaurants to remind them of their obligations.

The union representing fast food workers, Unite, says franchise owners often take union membership personally, and it wants better protection for its members.

Mike Treen, the union's national director, says young employees will be better protected against victimisation by bosses if they have secure hours of work.

He says the issue is widespread and young workers without secured hours are particularly vulnerable.

Mr Treen says McDonald's needs to take a stronger stand and insert a security of hours clause in its collective agreement with workers.