McDonald’s is reportedly saving up to $50 million a year by paying thousands of workers across Australia below award wages under a deal struck with Labor’s largest union affiliate.
The deal negotiated by the burger chain and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) in 2013 excludes weekend penalty rates and means that up to a third of Macca’s workers pocket almost one-third less than the award, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
As well as no additional compensation for weekends, work between 1am and 5am only carries only 10 percent loading.
While SDA workers under the McDonald’s agreement receive slightly higher hourly wages than those under the award, but not enough to cover the penalties most of those who do any night or weekend work would otherwise receive.
Australia-wide workers are allegedly missing out on at least $50 million with some young employees earning as little as $10.08 an hour.
Sixty-three percent of workers at one large Sydney McDonald’s are paid less than the award, according to a leaked roster obtained by Fairfax Media.
Brigid Forrester, who worked at a McDonald’s in Perth until recently, said she was not paid penalty rates despite working as late as 10pm on Sunday evenings.
“I would always joke with people about how bad our pay was, but I was struggling to pay rent, and I have to pay for petrol and for parking at university,” she said.
McDonald’s spokesman Chris Grant denied the fast food chain was underpaying workers.
He said the union deal ensured workers earned higher hourly rates every hour of the week “as opposed to penalty rates that only apply to limited timeframes”.
Mr Grant added that the agreement provided better leave and annual pay increases.
SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer also rejected that McDonald’s workers were underpaid, saying they enjoyed “significantly higher base rates of pay”.
“In the vast majority of cases, this leaves the worker better off overall,” he said.
“McDonald’s workers are among the best paid fast food workers in the world.”
Macca’s workers may not be the only ones allegedly getting a dud deal, with the SDA representing up to half a million fast food and retail workers.
The union is embroiled in a similar controversy with Coles, which has admitted that tens of thousands of its casual workers have been underpaid.
The Coles controversy should be resolved within weeks with the full bench of the Fair Work Commission set to rule on a challenge to the Coles/SDA agreement.