McDonald’s ex-franchisee pays out $275,000 for ‘union-busting’ tactics

McDonald's ex-franchisee $275k settlement
The former franchisee admitted to unlawfully inducing members to resign from the SDA. (Source: Bigstock)

A former McDonald’s franchisee has agreed to pay $275,000 in reparation and legal costs after the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) took a union-busting case to the Federal Court. 

The ex-franchisee of McDonald’s Murray Bridge was found to have unlawfully induced members to resign from the SDA during a five-year campaign aimed at what the SDA says was “a campaign to deunionise the workforce”. 

Workers at the restaurant were threatened with demotion and cuts to their working hours if they remained SDA members and a list of union members was posted on a noticeboard.

SDA SA secretary Josh Peak said the case might represent the first time in the world that a McDonald’s store has confessed to an unlawful campaign to deunionise the workforce. 

“McDonald’s Murray Bridge workers were bullied, intimidated and threatened because they stood up for themselves and their co-workers,” he said. 

“It’s a disgrace that McDonald’s – one of the biggest and richest global corporations – has stores where management actively campaigns to deny workers the basic, democratic right to the protection of union membership. This attack on vulnerable, young workers, cannot be tolerated.” 

The SDA claims the case highlights why the Fair Work Act must be strengthened to protect workers against abuse of their basic, fundamental workplace rights – including the right to protection by their union. 

The union says it is aware of “near-identical union-busting attempts” by other McDonald’s franchisees and is considering further court action. 

“We’ve heard from thousands of McDonald’s workers and they tell us unlawful union-busting activity is going on at McDonald’s stores across Australia. Many don’t want to be named for fear of losing their jobs or having shifts cut,” said Peak.

Most of the $275,000 settlement will be paid to workers and the franchisee’s company has agreed to a public statement admitting its wrongdoing as part of the settlement. 

This is not the first time McDonald’s SA franchisee has been linked to a breach of workplace regulations in Australia.

This article was first published on sibling website Inside Retail.