Fast Food Chains Appeal to Court for Right to Pay Staff McWages

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Byline: Enda Feeney

FAST food chains have gone to the High Court seeking to roll back regulations on pay and working conditions for their employees.

Siptu has condemned the move, citing the hypocrisy and greed of 'fast buck' outlets using a legal challenge to avoid paying employees proper rates.

The newly-formed Quick Service Food Alliance (QSFA), which represents 170 businesses in the fast food industry, is challenging the right of a Labour Court committee to set minimum rates of pay and employment conditions for catering industry workers.

The QSFA includes companies such as McDonalds, Abrakebabra, Subway, Supermacs, Burger King and Eddie Rocket's. It argues that the national minimum wage and 25 other pieces of legislation on employee's rights, mean there is no need for the Catering Joint Labour Committee (CJLC), a body set up to protect the rights of catering workers.

The High Court action is effectively a constitutional challenge to Employment Regulation Orders for the catering industry.

The fast food chains' group argues that Section 15 of the Constitution states that the sole and exclusive power to make laws is vested in the Oireachtas and no other authority has power to make laws for the State.

The chairman of the QSFA, John Grace, said yesterday: 'The making of Employment RegulationOrders by the Labour Court is, therefore, an unconstitutional delegation of this law-making function which should be reserved for the Oireachtas.

'The types of establishments represented by the QSFA are of the quick food, take away, food on-the-go nature.

'The employer's representatives at the CJLC at the time were more representative of a more formal-style restaurant.

'Job descriptions such as cook/chef, barman/barmaid, waiter/waitress are given to jobs to which a formal training exists.

There is no such training required for employees in the quick service industry. …