Thursday, May 11, 2006

Buiding a union in McDonalds, New Zealand

Our union is a small, activist union that recently led the world's
first strikes at Starbucks, and has since won a substantial
pay deal and improved conditions for our members there
and at KFC and Pizza Hut as well. Details of our
campaign and victory can be found at our campaign

However, we are also faced with a major challenge in
the next few months with a concerted offensive from
union busters McDonalds, who have threatened to "smash
the Unite union". Our members and delegates have
experienced severe victimisation and bullying, many
workplace leaders having their hours cut, rosters
changed to unsocial hours, or asked to find another
job "if you don't like it here". Recently, they
employed the services of a Kiwi arch union buster,
who embarked on a policy of paying non union members
more money in an attempt to destroy our membership
on the shop floor.

Our members in McDonalds, bouyed by the victories we
won at KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut, have now resolved
to fight hard in the next few months. At the moment
we have over 900 members in McDonalds stores in
Auckland alone. But most of these trade unionists are
on minimum wage, and are highly vulnerable. In this
David and Goliath battle, they know full well they
stand against a powerful multinational with billions
of dollars in reserve, and a media, legal and
advertising corps per excellence.

However, we also know that there are millions of trade
unionists around the world who will be inspired if we
can win this fight against McDonalds. It will truly
inspire workers in so called "McJobs" everywhere that
change is possible. As such, key Unite organisers
have gone to the corners of the earth to spread the
word- Senior Organiser Mike Treen to Venezuela and
Bolivia, and Education Officer Chrissy Holland to the
LaborNotes Conference in Detroit. I am visiting
interested trade unions and campaign groups in both
Ireland and Britain, and can be contacted at if you would like to meet up.

I am in the UK meeting General Secretary Mark Serwotka
of the Public and Commerical Services Union on May
16th, and will be meeting other trade union leaders
and groups until the 18th of May. I have a short 15
minute compilation of rushes from an upcoming
documentary being made about the SupersizeMyPay.Com
campaign to organise the unorganised in the fast food
industries. The campaign has been colourful and
energetic, and we want to spread its message through
union websites, publications and branches.

Any help and solidarity
you can give to our small union in this organisational
life and death fight for us would be greatly

Joe Carolan