Union to consult lawyers over lost KFC wages

By KHRISNA VIRGIL kvirgil@tribunemedia.net KFC employees could take legal action to recover wages lost when the chain shut down after the company refused to continue business without a new industrial agreement. Yesterday, Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) vice-president Darren Woods said employees raised the wage concerns when they met with union officials hours before the franchise opened following a nine day closure. He said: "The employees asked us about it and we told them that we would consult with out lawyers and get back to them on if their are sufficient grounds to take such actions." Last night, Mr Woods said he had no new information on whether union attorneys would advise the move. All nine KFC locations reopened on Wednesday following four consecutive days of negotiations with union officials and company owners. Union president Nicole Martin said a new industrial agreement would be signed within the next two weeks. Under the new agreement, new employees will be hired under a lower salary scale than current employees with a guaranteed work shift of at least four hours. KFC's contributions to its staff's pensions will also be reduced from six per cent to two per cent for four years. She said: "I think it's fair to say that the negotiations were extremely rough because we were faced with challenges, as far as just not being able to bargain and then of course we were faced with a company wanting to undo everything that has been done over the years. "It was not the easiest negotiations but we are happy we concluded with an agreement we can live with." Last month, tensions escalated after the fast food chain cancelled its voluntary recognition of the union. Following the announcement, staff staged a sit-down, leading to the closure of the company's New Providence outlets. Later that evening, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes certified BHCAWU as the official bargaining agent. The labour agreement between the two parties expired on September 24, 2011, and negotiations on a new agreement began in December. KFC has argued that its current wage and benefits package is "two times higher than all other fast food brands". Staff salaries were said to be between 79 to 92.5 per cent higher than its fast food industry competitors.


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