KFC: Union on 'amber alert'

By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net KENTUCKY Fried Chicken (Nassau) employees are "adamant" that they are not prepared to take a reduction in their wages or benefits, a Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) official said yesterday, with the union prepared to do "whatever necessary" to ensure that does not happen. Speaking with Tribune Business yesterday, BHCAWU vice-president Darren Woods said: "We met with representatives from KFC on Friday, and they gave us some outlines to give back to the company, which we gave on Friday evening. We are just waiting to hear back from the company. Those outlines include the areas of concessions and the areas that they are not prepared to move on." "The areas they [staff] are not prepared to move on is the guaranteed date, where the company wants to say to the employees that they come to work for a minimum of four hours, and they would dictate when that happens. Additionally, there is the reduction in wages. The employees are adamant that they are not prepared to have their wages reduced or benefits slashed, so we are waiting to hear from the company." Mr Woods said KFC has indicated that if a new agreement is not in place by February 20, it is prepared to go ahead and reduce employee wages. "The employees are on amber alert. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that that does not happen," Mr Woods said. Calls to KFC general managerm Gabriel Sastrem were not returned. Two weeks ago, Restaurants (Bahamas), the operator of KFC's Nassau franchise, published an advertisement detailing its staff's wage and benefits package compared to its competitors. In its notice, Restaurants (Bahamas) said staff salaries were between 79-92.5 per cent higher than its fast food industry competitors. It said KFC customer service workers were paid $360 per week, compared to $187 for its competitors; food service workers were paid $323 per week compared to $185 at rivals; cooks were paid $358 compared to $200; and utility workers $323 compared to $150 at its competitors. The notice also suggested that KFC employees enjoyed other benefits not provided by its competitors, including pension fund payments, health and welfare benefits, a Christmas bonus, paid birthday, long-service payment and an employee aid fund. The labour agreement between the union and Restaurants (Bahamas) expired on September 24, 2011, and negotiations on a new agreement began in December. Restaurants (Bahamas) has argued that KFC's current wage and benefits package was "two times higher than all other fast food brands". It has proposed to the union that wages be held back to a level that is "more in line with its competitors", as well as a reduction in specific benefits.


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