A third McDonald’s franchisee in South Australia faces allegations of workplace violations in Federal Court as the South Australian branch of the SDA – the union of fast food workers – files a landmark case.
The SDA is acting on behalf of 25 current and former McDonald’s workers and alleges franchisee IA & DM Robson Pty Ltd has deliberately denied workers rest and drink breaks.
The union also alleges that workers were told they could receive a free soft drink instead of a paid 10-minute break.
Thousands of dollars in compensation are being sought for the workers and the SDA is asking the court to grant penalties against the McDonald’s franchisee for violating the McDonald’s Agreement and the Fast Food Award.
IA & DM Robson Pty Ltd operates Arndale, Croydon, Fulham Gardens, Port Adelaide, Harbor Town, West Lakes and Woodville restaurants.
Joshua Kaye, 22, worked at McDonald’s West Lakes for seven years until 2021. Kaye said: “For six years I never received paid time off. Talking about our rights to breaks was generally a taboo subject at work, so we avoided talking about it with managers.
“Whenever I asked the managers about paid breaks, they told me we didn’t have them because we had a free drink instead.”
Brock Hedges, 25, was an employee at McDonald’s Fulham Gardens from 2014 to 2017 and said his manager never told him about the breaks.
“When I asked my manager if I could take my break, they told me I wasn’t entitled to it. I even had to attend a disciplinary meeting with my store manager because I had asked about these rights. I felt like I couldn’t talk about this issue or any issue at work, ”he said.
This latter action is in addition to two existing claims relating to paid breaks that have already been filed with the Federal Court.
One claim, against Olle G & J Pty Ltd, has increased from 14 to 61, and in the recent action against Delbridge Investments Pty Ltd, the number of claimants has increased from 55 to 180.
There is also an adverse action against 22 McDonald’s Murray Bridge workers against Delbridge Investments Pty Ltd for physical, verbal and psychological abuse by management.
SDA SA Secretary Josh Peak said, “It shouldn’t be necessary to keep coming to this. The SDA has now taken federal court action against three franchises, on behalf of 266 workers, in 15 restaurants, just to make sure thousands of workers can secure their basic rights. ”
Peak said: “It is clear that the denial of rest has been deliberate, systematic and widespread in McDonald’s restaurants. A free soft drink is not a substitute for a paid rest break and a Big Mac is not a substitute for a raise.
“McDonald’s cannot continue to cut corners when it comes to the rights of its employees.”
A spokesperson for McDonald’s Australia said Company manager within the franchise“As the SDA has suggested that the case should be taken to court, it would be inappropriate to address the allegations made against the individual franchisee at this point.
“We continue to work closely with our restaurants to ensure that employees receive all of the appropriate rights and compensation in the workplace.”
This story originally appeared on Inside the franchise business management.