Support the right to join a union!
UNITE has been contacted several times in recent months by young people who have just started working at McDonalds. What they have told us is that they were asked to sign a document pledging that they would not join a union.
Despite the new ‘Work Choices’ legislation it is still illegal for bosses to coerce a person into not joining a union. Under the Workplace Relations Act all employees have the right to belong to a union if they so wish.
Unfortunately none of these workers were given copies of this documentation. UNITE believes that either McDonalds knows this is unlawful behaviour and therefore does not give copies to their employees or this document is carefully worded and is used to give young people the impression that they cant join a union. Either way this is a form of intimidation and bullying against young workers.
McDonalds have built their business on the backs of young workers. Paying youth wages and employing most of their staff on a casual basis is the key to their massive profit margins. They know that if workers in their stores get organised in fighting unions this will put them in a much stronger position to argue for better wages and conditions.
This has been the case in other sectors. It has been the presence of strong unions that has forced employers to pay higher wages, improve conditions and provide workers with some security in their lives.
If UNITE can get our hands on this document McDonalds are asking workers to sign we will be seeking legal advice. If it is identified that any freedom of association provisions have been breached, a court may impose a fine or require the payment of compensation. The maximum fine for a breach of a civil remedy provision is $33,000 for an incorporated body or $6,600 for an individual.
The threat of small fines however is nothing to a multinational company like McDonalds. The greater threat is that of having to deal with an organised and unionised workforce.