Fast Food Power Grab?

Today’s strike by a handful of Starbucks workers in Auckland is believed to the first in the Seattle based chain’s history.

Organised by Matt McCarten’s “Unite” union, a few Auckland workers will be downing pinnies and steam wands today in support of wage demands.

McCarten’s Marxist controlled union has deliberately targeted low paid workers in largely non unionised areas such fast food outlets, service stations and movie theatres.

By June this year Unite had signed up significant numbers of members in targeted workplaces.

“1000 Auckland restaurant workers from McDonalds (500), KFC (300), Starbucks (90) and Pizza Hut (80) joined the new Unite campaign for decent pay and working conditions for restaurant workers. These workers along with the 300 Burger King workers and 35 Denny’s workers will be part of a push for collective employment agreements at job sites. Over the past month recruitment has tripled the numbers of workers involved in the campaign to 1300… Unite Website

Since falling out with the Alliance and then the Maori Party, McCarten has been working with the the Socialist Workers Organisation, The Socialist Party of Aotearoa and other Marxist groups to form a new “working class” political movement.

Unite’s aggressive push to build membership and support in low paid industries, where the public has some sympathy with the workers pay levels, may go some way to aiding McCarten’s ambitions.

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4 thoughts on “Fast Food Power Grab?

  1. It’s funny a Marxist controlled union is asking for more money for workers, if Marxism took over NZ, workers would get a lot less!

  2. What’s 1000 x $2 (as an example). Hey, $2,000 per week. Enough to pay McCarten all year. That’s all they’re doing. Supporting someone who couldn’t get a job in the private sector.

  3. The truth of this is that Matt McCarten could have easily got a job in the private sector. For one thing it’s not that hard. I’ve worked in about every permutation of employment contract and sector and the private sector in my experience is the least accountable with the lowest standards of all-round expectations from employers when compared to the public, state enterprise, or non-profit sector.

    Having said this McCarten has the respect of important people in the media and has a solid profile around campaigning. He could have easily slotted in to a media advisory/liason role for a corporation for example.

    He chose this role when he could have others. He’s not perfect, but he could have it easier if he didn’t choose to work in a union for low-paid workers. He, by his own admission, isn’t perfect, and I disagree with a lot of what I know he has done, but he certainly has made the more difficult choice.

    Unite! is union which contains Marxists, anarchists, social democrats, and people just generally interested in getting a fair deal. For what it’s worth, last I heard McCarten is in fact a Georgist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgist.

    Good on Unite! for taking on the work that no one else wanted to – helping low-paid young workers in fast food.

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