Fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s is being accused of paying staff below award rates.
Under an agreement struck three years ago, the chain’s staff traded away their weekend and late night penalties for a higher base rate.
But while the company and the union responsible say staff overall are better off, an officer at a different union is claiming otherwise.
Josh Cullinan, senior industrial officer at the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), said he has been looking into the arrangements at McDonald’s in a personal capacity.
He said workers were getting a “rotten deal”.
“We’ve got the actual rosters, the actual wages, the actual ages and even the names of these workers, and we’re able to see that of 170, 107 of them are worse off to the tune of $1000 a head and these are 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds,” he said.
“So there’s no escape for the SDA (Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association) or for McDonald’s.
“If they were open and honest about it, they could redact but release the rosters of every store and then we could see clearly and openly whether these workers are better off or not.
“At the moment the evidence makes it absolutely clear.”
Compensation for loss of penalties ‘doesn’t cut it’
Mr Cullinan said workers received a higher base rate of pay to the tune of 6.6 per cent, to compensate for the lack of penalties.
“So a casual or an ongoing staff member who works a Sunday would ordinarily get 50 per cent, Saturday 25 per cent, night-time 10 or 15 per cent,” he said.
“Six per cent doesn’t cut it when it comes to losing 50 per cent on a Sunday, especially if most of your hours are on a Sunday.”
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association strongly rejected the claims.
Gerard Dwyer, the SDA national secretary, said the agreement’s benefits outweighed the drawbacks.
“It’ll vary from state to state, but it’ll be bouncing there around 7, 8, in some cases 9 per cent. But that gap or that premium will actually increase because there are extremely solid wage increases locked in,” he said.
“The workers, the work force overall is better off under the McDonald’s agreement.
“The Fairfax story seeks to focus on selected individuals working specific shifts. But looking at the workforce as a whole, (they are) undoubtedly better off.”
AM understands the Fair Work Commission does not have the capacity to investigate the deal.
A statement released by McDonalds said that: “McDonald’s Australia has always provided the best pay and conditions in our industry for our people.
“Our agreement provides a range of additional benefits that go above and beyond the Fast Food Award, including additional leave entitlements and guaranteed annual pay increases.
“Any inference that we ‘under-pay’ our people by having an Enterprise Agreement is simply wrong.
“McDonald’s is open and transparent about our wage structure and working conditions; our Enterprise Agreement is freely available to everyone.”