Migrants protest worker conditions
Sun, 19 Aug 2012 6:08p.m.
By Adam Hollingworth
Union members and their supporters occupied three Burger King stores on Queen St in protest at their treatment of immigrant workers.
The move came as another union launched a network to improve the conditions of migrant workers.
At first it looked as though Burger King would prevent the Unite Union from occupying their Aotea Square, Queen St restaurant.
But what was prevented at lunchtime could not be stopped later as union members briefly occupied three outlets.
The union has taken cases to the Employment Relations Authority, saying Burger King is exploiting and abusing what it says is mainly a migrant work force that's too scared to speak out.
"It is because the company has told their managers to get them to quit their union because if they did speak to the union their visa wouldn't be extended and then they'd have to go back to their homeland," says Jerry Prakash of Unite Union.
Burger King denies this, saying it doesn't threaten its workers and that they are free to join unions.
Burger king says it's precluded from commenting on issues before the Employment Relations Authority, except to say that these cases do not refer to abuse or exploitation. Burger king says it's a responsible employer which respects its staff and their culture.
The move comes as another union, FIRST, launched a network to protect exploited migrants.
“More and more we're seeing basically what you could call rackets being established to employ migrant workers and simply to exploit them in New Zealand,” says FIRST Union’s general secretary Robert Reid.
But one employment law expert says unions can do little for the migrant workers in small businesses.
“If this union can do it I'd be very, very surprised because the resources needed to call on every single small employer and defend and take a case with every small employer,” says employment law expert Max White. “They won't have the dollars in the bank to be able to do that.”
Mr Whitehead believes the number of migrant workers being exploited all across New Zealand could be in the hundreds of thousands.
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23/10/2012 8:30:34 p.m.
samuel welsh wrote:
full support getr bk done for it human rights for all.
21/08/2012 5:27:14 p.m.
Hey, NZ think it is OK to send troops to Afghanistan to force US democracy in and put a corrupt government in power but we don't even like people from overseas coming to NZ just to work!! NOT dictate and kill?? They have every right to be here and every right to ask for equal opertunity and pay?
20/08/2012 5:13:24 p.m.
hundreds of thousands of migrant workers? send them home and there will be plenty of jobs for beneficiaries. sorted.
20/08/2012 2:32:48 p.m.
Why am I paying tax to support people out of a job, when we are importing people to do jobs that the unemployed could be doing ??
20/08/2012 2:13:31 p.m.
Just because working conditions are bad in places over seas, and workers being exploited more over seas does NOT mean that NZ should not strive to improve the conditions for workers here. Minimum wage needs to be at least $15 an hour!!
20/08/2012 1:57:15 p.m.
Jim Seaview wrote:
QUOTE: "Union members and their supporters occupied three Burger King stores on Queen St in protest at their treatment of immigrant workers.The move came as another union launched a network to improve the conditions of migrant workers. "Hello - there are now two Unions in on the act trying to get all BK staff to join their respective unions.If any of these two unions have specific allegations against BK then lets hear them.I cannot see how a major chain would treat any any of their migrant workers any differently to their normal Kiwi staff. BK would be aware of NZ Law that gives an employee the choice to either join a Union or not to join a Union.This is just a fight between FIRST Union’s general secretary Robert Reid and Jerry Prakash of UNITE Union to get more members to join their particular union, and therefore more union fees and the Company who actually provides real jobs, supplies their gear, deducts their tax, pays GST and OSH - is the meat in the sandwich and as a result of the Unions catfight - their customers are also affected.This is Unions displaying their old and tired political muscle.
20/08/2012 10:35:19 a.m.
Yoshio Usui wrote:
Democracy TaxThere are no Democracy costs for the Products of China.For all products from China, we should have China pay Democracy Tax to Democratic nations, because price competition has to be fair.Democracy costs too much, and the costs of democracy such as the election and division of the three powers are added on all products from toothbrushes to cars. The cause of the recession and unemployment lies in the Communist China.
20/08/2012 10:02:48 a.m.
Why Is it that we have migrant workers working in low skilled jobs such as at Burger King in the first place?
20/08/2012 9:28:54 a.m.
So people shouldn't uproot their lives and move across the world to try and achieve a better life for themselves and their families? People should just be happy that they are not being exploited quite as badly as they would be elsewhere? People should just be grateful they have a job and shut the heck up?
Migrants come to New Zealand for a better life. If their New Zealand based employer is treating them badly and trying to bully & exploit them then they have every right to contest, protest and challenge that in accordance with New Zealand law.
Why is it okay to exploit one sector of society just because conditions would be worse somewhere else in the world? It's a slippery slope, and when it becomes acceptable to exploit one group of people it won't be long before that becomes the norm and everyone's conditions are driven down in a race to the bottom.
It is the attitudes of people like Dan & Katrina that are what is wrong with this world.
"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." - Abraham Lincoln: State of the Union Address 1861
20/08/2012 7:37:52 a.m.
I take it then Dan that you support exploitation of workers no matter where it is carried out?
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