McDonald’s denies ‘churning’ work practices

McDonald’s Australia has denied the fast food giant is easing older employees out of their shifts in a churning process that favours cheaper, younger staff members.

The claims that staff have a use-by date were revealed in a report by ABC’s 7.30.

Some employees have told the news channel their shifts gradually declined as they got older.

One employee who started working with the burger chain when he was 16 said “Over time I started to get less and less shifts … it wasn’t straight away, it was over time.” Nelio Da Silva told 7.30, “I got less shifts because I got older, and definitely more expensive.”

The secretary of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union, Josh Cullinan, described the McDonald’s system as “exploitative”.

According to the ABC, the 2013 McDonald’s enterprise agreement sets out that, as of July 2016, McDonald’s employees in NSW aged 14 could be paid as little as $8.43 an hour.

Cullinan said the junior rates served as an incentive for McDonald’s to employ the practice of “learn and churn”: staff either learn and progress to manager roles, or see their shifts shrink and eventually phased out.

“The system that’s used at McDonalds is exploitative and it should stop,” Cullinan told the ABC.

But a spokesperson for McDonald’s denied the claims and rejected any suggestion that churning is an accepted process within the business.

“We need people of all ages to meet our staffing needs, and in fact, half of our restaurant employees are over 18. These people work more than 50 percent of the hours in our restaurant and we simply couldn’t run our restaurants without them. Each year, we continue to employ thousands of new employees 18 years and above to meet this business need.

“Claims this is a ‘systematic’ process at McDonald’s are simply untrue.

“Employees will always be given the opportunity to grow at McDonald’s and as one of the country’s largest employers of the young people, we take great pride in giving many young Australians opportunities that build their skills and give them the foundations for a great career – whether that’s with us, or elsewhere.”