The Fast Food bosses are attempting to pay their workers less, with a case which has commenced in the High Court today. [16th March 2011]. The poorly paid have often and continue to work in the food service industry. Low wages are usually the order of the day for those who work for the fast food merchants. But apparently in these times of austerity the owners of the junk food franchises(Subway, Abrakebabra, Bagel Factory, Burger King, Eddie Rocket’s, Supermac’s) see an opportunity to turn the screw even further on their workers and it is for that reason that they are in the High Court.
They’ve banded together to form something called the Quick Food Alliance, they’ve employed a barrister and his job is to contend that the way terms and conditions are set for this type of employment is unlawful.
The system as it currently works means that proposals are drawn up by the Joint Labour Committee and sent onto the Labour Court for approval. If the Labour Court takes on board recommendations, they make what is called an employment regulation order, and this sets minimum binding terms and conditions.
The reason why the Quick Food Alliance have secured the services of a barrister and are bringing this case into the High Court is to say that the above arrangement is unconstitutional, as only the Oireachtas (Parliament) has powers to make the laws of the State.
The real reason is that the Quick Food Alliance is unhappy that the rates set by the Labour Court are higher than minimum wage. There is also believed to be a large number of cases outstanding which are being pursued by the National Employment Rights authority for arrears owed to workers by members of the Quick Food Alliance.
A cursory look at the Quick Food Alliance website reveals what is the driving issue from their perspective. We see on the about us page “not least the issue of Sunday pay. Over the last two years, we have been heavily active in seeking a solution to this very serious problem.”
This band of employer’s have no problem paying for a barrister and taking a case to the High court, if it means that they can get out of paying their workers more for serving burgers on a Sunday. The issue for the bosses is one of cost. They’d rather try and change the laws than to pay people what they should be paid for working Sunday. We will be following this case with interest.