Fast food workers at McDonald's across Northland could be facing industrial action in the coming weeks as trade union negotiations have broken down, with the union accusing the fast food giants of refusing to abolish zero-hours employment contracts.
Strike action was due to start today at Wendy's and McDonald's outlets at main centres nationwide.
However, trade union Unite's Northland organiser, Gary Cranston, told the Advocate that while action would not kick off here today Northland workers were ready for strike action.
Last night, Burger King reached an agreement with the union to abolish the controversial contracts.
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The existing contracts allowed fast food chains to require staff to be available for work but does not require the employer to provide actual hours of work and allows managers to cancel shifts at short notice.
The union represents 83 workers across Northland, including fast food and cinema workers.
Mr Cranston said the power was in the hands of McDonald's but an anonymous vote for strike action was taken by over 2000 union members nationwide.
Kim Bartlett, communications manager for McDonald's, confirmed the new deal as "All McDonald's employees will receive 80 per cent security of hours up to a 40-hour cap, based on the average of the previous 12 weeks".
Unite criticised the deal as "PR spin" saying it had only offered security on "rostered hours", not actual "hours worked", which is what Northland's KFC workers were celebrating after its parent company Restaurant Brands agreed with the union.
Ms Bartlett said she was not surprised Unite found fault with the offer.
Unite's senior organiser Joe Carolan said the union was also hoping to settle on pay issues with Event Cinemas but he confirmed that if negotiations failed, cinema workers could join the picket line.
Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said this week that he would look at abolishing the practice and make provisions for changes to the law when he introduced another employment relations bill in June, following a review into the contracts which started last year.