Workers may be compensated millions of dollars thanks to a union-led campaign because of McDonald’s alleged refusal to allow their workers to take 10-minute paid breaks.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) has launched a court case seeking $250 million in compensation for unpaid wages across nearly 1,000 current and former McDonald’s sites.
SDA Secretary Gerard Dwyer said McDonald’s had no excuse for bad behaviour.
“These Federal Court Claims are not just about compensation and penalising McDonald’s, it’s about sending a clear message that this systematic exploitation of young workers will not be tolerated,” Dwyer said.
Some workers were offered free soft drinks instead of a paid break while others were told that the couple of minutes it would take to take a drink water or got to the toilet would accumulate to a 10-minute break.
More consistency for burgers than breaks
This court case isn’t just a matter of one or two stores refusing to follow the rules. The SDA has also lodged 14 other Federal Court actions against franchisees in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, and South Australia over denied paid breaks.
“Across their restaurants, McDonald’s demands consistency. They make sure each restaurant can put two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. It’s simply not believable that these breaks weren’t denied on purpose,” Dwyer said.
“As one of the largest employers of young people in Australia, McDonald’s shouldn’t have to be dragged through the Federal Court for workers to receive their most basic entitlements.”
One former McDonald’s manager, Katie, spoke of the dodgy ways in which McDonald’s denied paid breaks.
“Part of my job was to deliberately print out forms that would say that the employees had their break when they didn’t. Then we would have to go get the children to sign them to say that was okay,” she said.
“I hated it. I quit. I was only a manager for two months because I couldn’t stand it.”
Would you like a side of workers’ rights with that?
Alarm bells ringing for you yet? Even if you’re not working at McDonald’s or in fast food, you should contact your union if you think you might not be getting the breaks or pay you’re entitled to.
If you’re a parent and your kid has just started working, have a chat with them about their union so they know about their rights at work. It’s one of the most important conversations to have with them at that age to set them up for an empowered and informed working life.
We know that sometimes you just need a second opinion. When you have tough or tricky questions, your union is the first source of information about your wages and working rights. This is what we do – day in, day out – so you can trust your union to give you the right information at the right time.
And if things do go wrong in the workplace, all union members get access to advice and legal representation.