Campaign forces fast food chain to change wages

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Bosses at a Melbourne fast-food restaurant have been forced to amend employee wages after one former worker started an online campaign and received widespread support from the public.

Twenty-year-old Kahlani Pyrah had worked at the Camberwell outlet of Grill’d for a year when she realised employees were being paid below minimum wage with no overtime or penalty rates.

Under the contract which covers five Grill'd outlets in the city, workers were being paid a flat rate of AUD$17.52 with no weekend penalty rates and - according to Pyra - employees weren’t paid overtime even if they worked until 2am.

When the 20-year-old contacted her union, United Voice, she found that she should be receiving almost $18.47 per hour and an additional $9.24 per hour on weekends.
After the discover, Pyrah organized a meeting with Grill’d through her union and – following negotiations – the company promised to pay staff what they were owed and pay the award if the current contracts weren’t terminated.
That promise never materialized and soon after Pryah applied to the Fair Work Commission to have the contracts terminated. Eleven days later, she was fired – accused of bulling two senior managers.

“I was sacked for standing up for my rights,” she said. “That's not right.”

In response, Pryah started an online petition calling on bosses to raise wages and reinstate her. The campaign quickly snowballed, receiving more than 22,500 signatures in less than five days.

“I want my job back,” she said, “and I want my workmates to get paid the award minimum and for Grill'd to respect our right to join a union and be treated fairly.”

Under increasing pressure, the major chain has finally responded – promising to review it pay rates.

“Our intent is to make sure we very clearly do what’s right and enter into modernising our award,” founder Simon Crowe told 3AW radio. “We want to make sure, from a fairness perspective, we are above board and we meet the needs of our people.”

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  • Tom Goldie on 2015-07-24 4:36:42 PM

    Good for her. Companies have to be held accountable; it is unfortunate that individual employees have to take up the cause.

  • Tom from Burnaby BC on 2015-07-24 6:53:16 PM

    In my travels it seems BC government is adopting/allowing this poor employment practice to grow in corporations (the new corporate look) and we will see more working people standing up for their rights.

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