Dozens of police officers are arresting Walmart workers outside an LA store after they blocked the intersection. This is history in the making yet it’s not on ANY cable new channels. Share this to spread the word. November 13, 2014
“Technology threatens to replace low- and medium-skilled jobs, predominantly held by people of color, in the $709.2 billion restaurant industry. In May, Wendy’s opened a facility near the campus of Ohio State University that will design and test consumer-facing technologies, including a new online ordering app. In 2011, European branches of McDonalds added 7,000 touch-screen cashiers. McDonald’s claims that the few locations in the U.S. with automated cashiers will not affect workforce numbers, but that’s difficult to believe: Computerization and reliance on robotic technology are already changing the industry.”
Berkeley researchers analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data at the campus’s Center for Labor Research and Education found that low-wage workers, defined as those earning hourly wages of $13.63 or less, have seen steady declines in their inflation-adjusted buying power. This low-wage workforce, nearly three-quarters nonwhite and concentrated in two industries — retail trade, and restaurants and other food services — has also become older and more highly educated.
Teens made up 5 percent of low-wage workers in 2014, down from 16 percent in 1979, and 48 percent of low-wage earners in 2014 had attended some college, compared to 39 percent in 1979. The analysis also showed that 40 percent of the state’s low-wage workers in 2014 were foreign-born.
Low wage workers are older and more educated than their 1970s counterparts. The gap between the top one percent and the lowest economic rung on the ladder grows, not simply because the rich get richer—it’s because they pay into our system less and less.
You can see the work they did published here.
Shy sandwich-maker Mahoma Lopez unites his undocumented immigrant coworkers to fight abusive conditions at a popular New York restaurant chain. The epic power struggle that ensues turns a single city block into a battlefield in America’s new wage wars.
Zero hours’ employment contracts completely disregard the minimum
standards of ‘decent work’ contained in the International Declaration of
May Day 2015 has just been observed and celebrated by the global
community, but around the world, including here in South Africa,
hundreds of thousands of workers are toiling under “zero hours”
contracts where they can get jobs, but never actually work or be paid.
Under zero hours’ contracts, workers have to guarantee their
availability to employers, but in effect remain on unpaid standby all
week waiting to be called to work. A zero hours contract worker may
eventually only work one or two hours a week, or none at all.
In South Africa, zero hours contracts are being marketed in template form by commercial legal firm NetLawman
for just R399. Billed as a “superb framework for fair and full
protection of the employer,” the law firm trumpets that “there is no
obligation on the employer to provide work,” under these contracts.
For the workers, this means that their hours and pay can be slashed from week to week simply because their manager decides so.
And despite the fact that the worker may never be given any work or earn
any pay after signing a zero hours contract, the contract is very
onerous in its demands on the worker. The worker has to be available for
a 40-hour week like any other employee and so cannot look for other
work. The zero hours contract also compels the worker to agree to keep
company business confidential, to follow certain rules aimed at
protecting the intellectual property of the company and to be
responsible for helping the company protect its employees’ data.
Zero hours contracts also completely disregard the minimum standards of
“decent work” contained in the International Declaration of Human
Rights. Decent work is not just a general and subjective statement here
but has been spelled out as the right to work under “just and favourable
conditions” with protection against unemployment, among others. Zero
hours contracts allow for none of these rights and in other words, are
employment contracts that violate human rights.
In South Africa, another problem is that farm workers have essentially
always been on zero hours contracts by any other name – working dozens
of extra hours during harvest time, being put on unpaid time off during
storms and extreme weather and generally being forced to keep extremely
flexible hours determined solely by the farmer. The same applies to
domestic workers who can been seen working into the night and well over
60 hours per week during periods of heightened social activity by their
The growing culture of forcing desperate would-be workers and graduates
into servitude as “volunteers” is another problem, and one which was
highlighted by the NUMSA-aligned progressive unions in a statement by
former Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi on May Day. Vavi pointed
out that tens of thousands of community healthcare workers were not
even recognised as workers, but described as volunteers, although they
were keeping the underfunded and understaffed health system going.
“These healthcare workers are not a luxury. The system cannot function
without them. We must support their demands,” said Vavi.
While the contracts started out as a way for bosses to hire temporary
workers for short periods in busy times, around the world they have
spread throughout the fast food sectors, aged care homes sector,
security and cleaning companies, casinos, and through many huge and
profitable retail chains.
Because they create working conditions not much different from those of
the 18th century workhouses - in the sense that workers had no control
over the amount of punishing work they had to perform in order to eke
out a poverty wage - these zero hours contracts are currently facing a
Labour activist Steve Davies describes the zero hours contract as, “the
ultimate form of labour market flexibility – a form of modern day
feudalism, in which the worker is tied to the employer without
guarantees of work or pay.”
In New Zealand, the UNITE fast food workers union has waged a decade
long campaign for secure hours and against zero hours contracts at KFC,
Pizza Hut, Burger King and McDonald’s – the same fast food chains that
profit in South Africa and the rest of the world. The campaign included
blockades of the outlets, strikes and marches and on May Day, UNITE
finally succeeded in getting the final fast food company to capitulate –
“You expect them to turn up to work when you want but don’t have the
decency to make sure they have enough paid hours each week to feed their
families and pay their bills. These sorts of jobs have no place in a
modern society. You run profitable retail businesses with set hours.
There is simply no good reason why you can’t offer all your workers a
guarantee of hours,” was UNITE’s message to the fast food companies
before the companies agreed to end zero hours contracts.
In South Africa, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act protects workers
who work over 24 hours per month for any employer, giving these
“casual” workers the full protections under the act and also the
protections of the Employment Equity and Labour Relations Acts. Workers
who only work six hours per week, while being protected by the Basic
Conditions of Employment Act, have always complained that they don’t
work enough hours to earn a decent wage. But the zero hours contracts
take the situation to another extreme – allowing bosses to establish
full workforces of people who are always available but never have to be
paid, and who can be called to work for five hours or less per week,
therefore losing all protection under labour law.
It is also highly unlikely that workers who toil on different days every
week and at different times of day, will ever get to know their
colleagues and organise unions together.
In England, the conservative Tory government has slyly rebranded these
contracts as “flexible contracts” after noticing that “zero hours”
invoked images of desperate workers who never got any work at all. This
provoked a backlash even from people who normally care less about what
kinds of casual contracts workers are being manipulated into accepting.
It has become trite to speak about how so few jobs these days are
permanent. Employers globally are busying themselves with ways of
harnessing the desperation of workers who have rarely worked and who
will accept jobs where they may never work or ever be paid. Zero hours
contracts are the ultimate form of 21st century casualization.
India said on Saturday that it had transferred the diplomat at the center of a row with the United States to New Delhi’s United Nations delegation, a move that it hopes will give her protection from prosecution for visa fraud and underpaying a maid.
Whether the accreditation of Devyani Khobragade as a member of India’s U.N. mission leads to a way out of the dispute could depend on the U.S. State Department approving her transfer from her current role as deputy consul general in New York.
Restaurant Brands – which owns the KFC, Pizza Hut,
Carl’s Jr and Starbucks chains – has committed to end zero hour
contracts by July this year in a new collective agreement negotiated
with Unite Union in New Zealand.
Unite has 2,000 members at the chain and is recommending the new terms to members in a vote to be held over the next week or so.
The Unite bargaining team was unanimous in its support for the
proposal which promises staff at least 80% of the average hours will be
guaranteed using a three month rolling average of hours worked up to a
maximum of 32 hours a week.
“This is a gigantic step forward for workers in the fast food industry” says Unite National Director Mike Treen.
Unfortunately McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are still refusing to move meaningfully on the issue.
Union members at all three chains have now voted in support of an
industrial and public campaign to try and convince these companies that
they have to end zero hour contracts also.
Unite is appealing for members of the public to help them in this campaign.
“It is time for New Zealanders to tell these profitable
multi-national chains that they need to stop taking advantage of their
often young and vulnerable workers and put an end to a labour practice
that the people of New Zealand have made clear they find unacceptable.
“Tomorrow we are asking people to go to our website at www.unite.org.nz
and sign a letter that will be forwarded to the three holdouts. They
may think they can ignore their own workers but they won’t be able to
ignore tens of thousands of fair minded Kiwis who need to tell them to
end zero hour contracts now. If Restaurant Brands can do it so can
McDonald’s, BK and Wendy’s.”
Unite members will also be joining the international day of action by fast food workers on April 15.