NZ: McDonald's backs down after lunchtime strike

McDonald’s workers in Auckland, New Zealand carried out a symbolic strike at lunchtime on Friday despite the company’s threats to sue individual workers if they took part in union action.

Submitted by Steven. on February 12, 2006

After the strike, the company retracted their threat issued last night to sue any of their workers who went on strike today.

The symbolic strike was in response to a number of Unite union members being rostered off by the company on Sunday February 12, when it was agreed the workers would be paid to go to a union stopwork meeting at the Town Hall.

What was initially a meeting to discuss whether or not to take industrial action against McDonald’s turned into a symbolic strike after workers who had been affected by the roster changes met and unanimously decided to take action.

A text message was sent out today encouraging people to rally outside the Queen St McDonald’s store and 100 people turned up to show their support for the employees, many of whom are on minimum wage.

The numbers included Wairau Park McDonald’s workers, who joined their striking workmates and travelled to Queen St to strike alongside them.

Poto Suifili, a trainee manager at Queen St McDonald’s who joined the action, said she had worked at the store for four years and had not seen any change in pay rates.

“I’ve been at McDonald’s for four years and nothing’s changed. It’s not like things are getting any cheaper in this world, so it’s at least fair that we get a pay rise. $12 is not that much,” she said.

“Many of the worker’s families are in financially insecure situations. We have to get better pay so our families can afford to live. But this is not just for us, it’s for everyone.

“I’ll be going to the public rally at the Town Hall on Sunday with my whole family – there are 12 of us – to support all the workers who know they need a decent wage. I hope that the whole community joins us,” she said.

The strike did not interrupt lunch time customers in the store but was intended to draw attention to McDonald’s workers joining the campaign to demand a $12 minimum wage, an end to youth rates and secure hours.

It was not a union initiated strike as formal negotiations begin between McDonald’s and Unite union on Wednesday.

The store continued to operate normally.