John Weekes

John Weekes is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Fast food giant pays in vouchers for ad

McDonald's staff member, Patrick Dubek, 19, was offered a $100 voucher to appear in a commercial. Photo / Michael Craig
McDonald's staff member, Patrick Dubek, 19, was offered a $100 voucher to appear in a commercial. Photo / Michael Craig

An angry fast food worker says McDonald's offered him a $100 voucher, instead of paying him, to work on a film shoot for an advertisement that could have lasted three days.

Henderson resident Patrick Dubek, 19, said he was disgusted the company offered him the Westfield voucher to appear in the commercial with about 20 other employees. He pulled out - and said McDonald's then replaced him with an extra whom they paid about $1000.

McDonald's says, however, no staff have complained about the commercial work and most of the group were involved for less than one day.

Dubek said there was no indication how long the shoot would last when people signed up. "They recruited people from all over. They said it could take up to the full eight hours."

Most of the filming is understood to have happened in under five hours on a Saturday. McDonald's spokesman Kim Bartlett said most crew were only used that one day. A few were needed for two days, and one person was there for three.

"Generally crew could expect to be on set for anything from a few hours to a full day. Ultimately it's up to them."

The Herald on Sunday obtained a copy of the contract for the shoot, which a top employment law expert and film industry insider criticised.

Dubek's union, Unite, was upset about the contract. National director Mike Treen said he was surprised McDonald's offered it to employees who already had contracts with the company. "We're concerned workers who have a contract ... are being given work outside of the store and told that if they volunteer for this work they can do it for less than the minimum wage."

Treen said Unite would raise the issue at a meeting with McDonald's next Thursday. He said voucher payments were of concern and McDonald's had tried to get labour "on the cheap".

Auckland Actors agent Graham Dunster said the contract offered to McDonald's staffers would never be acceptable in Australia, most developed countries, or to professional actors. Dunster said NZ was the "Wild West" when it came to hiring for film and TV.

McDonald's did not directly answer questions about Dubek's replacement. In a statement, the company said it received no complaints from crew relating to the conditions of participating in TV ads.

"McDonald's has run a popular 'crew as crew in television advertising' programme for over two years," the company said. "Over 100 crew have applied for the chance to feature in advertising, primarily as it's an opportunity to do something they might not get a chance to do otherwise. Appearing in McDonald's ads is completely voluntary, but crew do have expenses covered and can receive vouchers as a goodwill gesture."

- Herald on Sunday

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