• KFC Workers Strike to Abolish Youth Rates

last modified January 13, 2013 by strypey

Around 60 workers from various KFC stores and a Starbucks participated in a rolling picket across Auckland today.

The day began at lunchtime with a low-key rally outside the Civic on Queen St. Unite city centre organiser Joe Carolan, Unite advocate John Minto and a small crew of volunteers, delegates and a couple of supporters from the Greens spent a couple of hours handing out copies of the new Workers Charter paper and soliciting support from lunching pedestrians and toots from passing motorists for Sue Bradford's private member's bill to abolish youth rates.

At 2pm the crew boarded the Workers Charter solidarity bus to head to the first of the day's pickets, KFC at Lincoln Rd Henderson. On the way the bus stopped in at the Massey Rd, West Auckland KFC where all 4 of the Unite members running the store agreed to join the wildcat strike, leaving their flustered manager attempting to run the store alone. It also stopped at Massey High School to pick up two Lincoln Rd delegates and talk to their fellow students about youth rates and unions. At this point cameras from Tv1 and TV3 filmed the young workers for their six o'clock news.

Mainstream news coverage continued at the Lincoln Rd picket which was loud and lively with Massey Rd workers, Unite organisers and community supporters joining most of the workers rostered on at the Lincoln Rd KFC outside the store. Rousing chants of "2,4,6,8, no more youth rates", "3,5,7,9, never cross a picket line" and "What do we want? $12 an hour! When do we want it? Now!" combined with banners and placards demanding an end to youth rates and secure hours for all workers to hammer home the SuperSizeMyPay.com campaign messages.

Workers from both stores joined the Unite crew on the bus at 4pm to head for another picket at Manukau KFC. Unite members at the Manukau store had agreed to a Thursday strike at a stopwork meeting earlier but when management reacted by removing all the workers who attended the meeting from the Thursday roster the members response was to join Lincoln Rd's wildcat. The Manukau picket began around 5:40pm

The solidarity bus took another trip to Mangere East KFC to invite workers there to join the picket but only two union members were rostered on and both were nervous about leaving the job without support from the rest of their workmates. Back at the Manukau strike many potential customers were respecting the picket line and going elsewhere for dinner. Incensed by this, management called the police and attempted to break up the picket line, gesturing enthusiastically to hesistant diners at the parking entrance.

By this time the news came through that members at the Balmoral KFC had decided to join the wildcat wave. At this point it was decided to load the workers from all three stores, their organisers and supporters back on the bus and show some solidarity at Balmoral. This time management were out in force, making threats to anyone who discouraged customers from coming into the car park and calling the police almost immediately. On the up side a man from a neighbouring house, a veteran of union organising in the construction industry, joined the picket line and expressed his support for the young workers' stand and disgust at the KFC customers ignoring the strike and eating at the store anyway. The KFC members were also joined by Unite members from a Starbucks in Parnell.

The rolling picket ended on a high note with plenty of chants and supporting toots from early evening motorists. The group returned to Unite headquarters to celebrate the day's successful action and make plans for further action in the campaign to improve the lot of low paid workers.

Originally published on Aotearoa.Indymedia.org (February, 2006)