Aussie fast food workers won’t serve up a strike on day of international protest

Fast food workers around the world are planning an international strike this Thursday to protest pay and conditions, but well-paid Aussie workers won’t be joining the picket line.

Despite a Fair Work audit into the fast food sector made last year in a response to a significant number of complaints, SDA national secretary Joe de Bruyn confirmed to SmartCompany that Australian workers were satisfied with pay and conditions and would not be taking part in the international day of action.

Trade publication Franchising reports the employees of fast food chains including McDonald’s and KFC will strike across 150 US cities, as well as participate in protests in more than 30 other countries.

Among the many activities planned for May 15 are protests at 30 McDonald’s branches in Japan, demonstrations across five Brazilian states and throughout Morocco, and strikes in the Italian cities of Venice, Rome and Milan.

Organisers at the International Union of Food said in a statement the protests were in demand of $US15 per hour minimum wage and the right to form a union without fear of retaliation.

“Fast food workers around the world face the same issues of precarious work, low wages, and fierce opposition to union organization,” read the statement.

But de Bruyn said Australian fast food workers were the highest paid in the world and the SDA had an excellent relationship with the major restaurant chains.

“We don’t want to participate because it is not consistent with our dealings with the major fast food chains,” said de Bruyn.

“They have shown fairness and respect to Australian workers.”

He said overseas fast food chains were neglected by unions and this strike would be only the first step in getting employers to take notice.

He said the conditions and pay Australia workers enjoyed had been achieved by creating a good relationship with the fast food companies.

“I actually don’t think it’s a smart move to take an aggressive stance like this,” said de Bruyn.

Franchising reports this is not the first time US fast food worker demonstrations have gained traction – at the end of 2012 around 200 people initiated protests in New York, a move that saw workers residing in 100 US cities follow suit.


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