Fast-food giant McDonald's has proposed a return to mediation to resolve the last big obstacle to what now looks likely to be a successful union campaign to end "zero-hours" contracts in the fast food industry.
The campaign climaxed with protests by several hundred fast-food workers around the country yesterday, marking an international day of action by low-wage workers demanding higher pay and secure hours.
Burger King and Hell Pizza have already agreed to move all workers to secure shifts. Restaurant Brands has agreed to guarantee at least 80 per cent of actual hours worked in the previous three months for its 3700 workers in KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Carl's Jnr.
McDonald's, the country's biggest fast-food company with 9000 workers, also said yesterday: "Whether it's scheduled or worked hours, we're committed to moving away from zero-hours contracts and we're committed to bargaining and working through the details with Unite Union."
Unite director Mike Treen led his delegates out of a five-hour mediation meeting on Tuesday because he said McDonald's refused to guarantee 80 per cent of actual hours and insisted on guaranteeing 80 per cent of rostered hours only.
"Rosters go up and down. We can't measure a roster," he said. "At the end of it I said, 'Are you moving from scheduled hours to worked hours in your proposal?' And they said no."
However McDonald's human relations manager Christine Hutton emailed Mr Treen at 4.30pm yesterday proposing further mediation dates between April 17 and 29. Spokeswoman Kim Bartlett said the company was willing to talk about scheduled or worked hours.
"Our initial offer was exactly the same as Restaurant Brands but it was scheduled hours, theirs was worked hours," she said. "We are willing to have a discussion with Unite about that, but to do that we have to be in the same room."
Mr Treen said he would accept more mediation if McDonald's assured him that it was willing to make "a meaningful offer".
McDonald's workers at the Auckland protest said the company had become tougher on hours in recent years.
"Even the old McDonald's used to have fairer hours," said Mario Baniecivich, 27, who has worked at the Kelston branch for three years.
"I normally work 28, 26 or 30 hours. It suits me. They only gave me 22 hours this week. It's not fair."
Flatmates Nicole Vatu, 30, from Clendon branch, and Lucy Tautagi, 19, from Manurewa branch, said they both worked about 30 hours a week at $14.80 an hour but wanted 40 hours.
"I come to all my shifts, yet they don't give me any more hours," said Ms Tautagi.
Michelle Hooper, a 39-year-old mother of five who has worked at the Panmure branch for four and a half years, said her income of $300-$400 a week was her family's sole income because her husband is off work with a back injury.
"I work 37 hours a week, it's not too bad, but I'm here to fight for everyone," she said.
She earns only $15.05 an hour.
Mr Treen said the company had given all non-union members a 50c pay rise from April 1 in line with the rise in the legal minimum wage from $14.25 to $14.75 an hour, but the union was still negotiating new pay rates for union members.
Zero-hours: how they line up
Burger King, Hell Pizza:
Agreed to fixed shifts for all workers, guaranteeing 100% regular income.
KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Carl's Jnr: Agreed to guarantee workers at least 80% of their actual hours worked over previous three months.
McDonald's: Offered to guarantee at least 80% of rostered or worked hours; details not yet agreed.
Wendy's: No offer yet.