McDonald’s faces massive legal action over ‘shameful’ treatment of workers

The SDA union has filed a multi-million lawsuit in Federal Court against McDonald’s Australia seeking compensation for around 900 current and former employees who the union says were denied paid breaks and misled about their rights.

The action covers more than 110 restaurants across Australia owned and operated directly by the fast food company and follows eight previous claims brought in Federal Court by the SDA against McDonald’s franchisees.

The grievance, filed in South Australia, is currently on behalf of 338 current and former McDonald’s workers employed at 92 restaurants, but the union is actively talking to others and has set up a website to recruit people who have worked for the company over the past six years. years, to join the action. McDonald’s denies that the claim is valid and has agreed to defend it.

SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer describes the case as the largest of its kind in Australian history and “a groundbreaking moment for some of the country’s most vulnerable workers”.

“The fact that one of Australia’s biggest employers of young people (on junior wages) has deliberately and consistently denied teenagers their breaks is astonishing. It takes a lot of courage to stand up openly and speak out against your employer and the SDA is proud to stand by his side to make sure these workers get their due.

He said the action could impact thousands of workers across Australia and result in millions of dollars in compensation if successful.

The union wants the workers affected to receive compensation for working during their breaks and for the company to be punished in court for breaching the Fair Work Act.

He alleges that in addition to concealing employees’ rights to meal breaks, many store managers told workers they could have a free soft drink instead of a paid rest break and that they did not get no breaks because they could go to the bathroom or have a drink when they needed it. The SDA says the law provides for a 10-minute break for any staff member who works a shift of four hours or more.

“McDonald’s has been feeding crew members a bull and rooster story about their break rights for too long,” said Josh Peak, secretary of the SDA’s South Australian branch.

“Fast food restaurants are busy, hot and the work is exhausting – it is shameful to think that young workers have been denied their rightful breaks and told they don’t exist. Paid rest and drink breaks are not optional, they are a right for all fast food workers,” he said.

“It shouldn’t take nine claims in Federal Court for McDonald’s to clean up its act.”

McDonald’s, in a statement, told Inside FMCG that it intends to fully defend the claim.

“McDonald’s believes that its restaurants complied with applicable instruments, provided employee breaks and complied with historical working arrangements. These arrangements have been known to the SDA for many years. The manner of taking breaks has not been challenged or raised by the SDA as a matter of concern throughout successive corporate negotiation processes for new industry agreements,” the company said.

“We are very mindful of our obligations under applicable employment laws, including the former Enterprise Agreement and the Fast Food Industry Award, and continue to work closely with our restaurants to ensure that employees receive all the correct rights and wages in the workplace. Seen in this context, the present assertion is both surprising and disappointing. We value our employees and the great contribution they make to the success of the company.

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