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Unite still talking to Restaurant Brands

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017 Paul McBeth

Unite Union is still negotiating with Restaurant Brands after the union's members, who account for about half the fast food operator's local workforce, went on strike for the first time in a decade.

Last month Unite members took industrial action after talks broke down with Restaurant Brands, picketing KFC stores in Auckland, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin during a Saturday lunch time.

The parties are at odds over pay and conditions and Unite national secretary Gerard Hehir says they've made some progress after meeting several times over the last couple of weeks.

"We're just finalising some specific points at the moment," Mr Hehir told BusinessDesk. "We're getting to the point where we sort it out and get an agreement, or we look at other options."

Restaurant Brands employed 3422 across its 170 New Zealand stores operating under the KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks Coffee and Carl's Jr brands at February 27, according to its annual report published on Wednesday.

Unite members hadn't held a strike at Restaurant Brands stores since 2006.

The fast food operator is generally seen as a leading employer in the sector by being the first to sign a collective agreement, ditch youth rates, reward staff loyalty with a stepped pay hike, and move to a fixed-shift system after the zero hours change.

Restaurant Brands touted that pedigree as an employer in the annual report without noting the negotiations with the union.

It also reiterated rising labour costs squeezed margins as the company's wage bill rose 25 per cent to $130.7m in the year, lagging behind a 28 per cent increase in revenue to $497.2m.

The company's wage bill equated to 26.3 per cent of revenue.

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