KFC - Cleverer than most, but still Using zero hour contracts
I started working for the fast food restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken around 9 months ago. I had left my job in a supermarket, where I was a shop steward, to find a full-time job, not being able to get by on 16 hours a week and with no chance of finding a full-time contract there. Eventually I found this job at KFC. At KFC a full-time contract is supposed to mean 20 hours per week minimum, which isn't great by any stretch but it was more hours per week than I was getting with my job at the supermarket.
For a time there was not much to complain about, I was averaging 20 to 40 hours per week. If anything my complaint would have been against irregular hours but at least I was earning enough to just about get by on, on a mere £6.19 an hour. Everything changed when the store began to get less busy, suddenly myself and other full-time workers found ourselves being given 16 hours some weeks, and some were getting one shift a week or none! Some part-time workers were not even getting their contracted 4 hours per week!
I decided to challenge my manager on this issue, knowing full well that I had no back up, KFC is a non-unionised company, and unfortunately the workers aren't yet at the stage of the American fast food workers who have been taken wildcat strike action in a number of states over pay and conditions, namely for a $15 an hour living wage and the right to unionise. I received from my manager a mouthful of abuse for taking my grievance up with him and was told that if I had read my contract properly, I would have noticed the fine print which allows the company to adjust its workers' hours to business needs.
Surely this is effectively a way for KFC to use zero hour contracts while being able to put their hands over their hearts and say they don't! Perhaps the most explicit confession came from another manager who I approached and asked them what the difference between a full-time contract and a part-time contract is if workers aren't guaranteed the minimum hours stated in their contract. The manager replied that there is no difference and "It's just a way in which they can use and abuse you!".
What is needed in KFC to defend workers and ensure us real contracts in which we are guaranteed the hours stated within, is the unionisation of the store and of the company. We need a fighting union that will campaign for solid contracts and a living wage of £10 per hour by calling for industrial action if necessary. We need shop stewards to stop unfair dismissals, bullying and harassment in the workplace.
Are we sick of our boss? You better believe it!
A KFC Worker from the UK
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