Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Complaints over KFC's 'unfair practices'


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Employees of the KFC fast-food restaurants filed a compliant with the Labour Relations Committee yesterday about alleged unfair employment practices and job termination, revealing that they were given instant noodles and leftovers to eat while the firm earned Bt6 billion a year.

Meanwhile, Yum Restaurants International (Thailand), which runs the KFC and Pizza Hut chain, issued a statement saying that senior executives had directly addressed the issue under the company's "pro-employee" agenda.

And, Milind Pant, managing director of the company, said yesterday in response to the complaint that it treated all the employees fairly, complying with Thai laws.

Former KFC employees Krit Suang-aranan, Siwaporn Somjit and Apantri Charoensak showed up at the committee's offices yesterday to complain that they were let go of unfairly because they had gathered 260 signatures to propose a 10-point demand including a salary rise, a bonus, additional benefits and one free meal a day. The three were accompanied by the vice president of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), Chaiyasit Suksomboon.

The complainants, who previously supervised 33 KFC branches with 900 workers in Bangkok, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani, claimed that employees were given an unfair wage of merely Bt27 per hour or Bt5,200 a month.

However, Milind said the company had increased the wages for all part-time employees by 10 per cent since April 4 due to high inflation. So, a part-time employee who worked more than 20 days per month was paid Bt6,500 monthly. Earlier, it announced that it would give 10 per cent incentives to employees based on their store performance late last year.

"We insist that we pay them equal or more than other companies," he added.

For full-time employees, the company had announced it would give them a five per cent salary hike early this year and another four per cent salary hike in June, he said.

"These workers live on instant noodles and leftover fried chicken. Some finish work as late as 1am, and they are not even given any transport allowance," Siwaporn said, adding that this was despite the fact that the company earned between Bt5 billion and Bt6 billion a year.

She added that her group had been forced to resign for allegedly inciting the workers and the company had also posted negative comments about them on its website.

On the other hand, Apantri said the company's lawyers had spoken to them on May 3 and announced unofficially that the company would raise salaries by 4 per cent from June 4, as well as establish a social-security fund for workers from next January.

Chaiyasit, meanwhile, said the company was clearly treating employees unfairly and that the committee would discuss measures such as campaigning for a boycott of KFC food products. They will also file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation, the National Human Rights Commission, the prime minister as well as the Labour Court, he said.

Milind responded that his company had terminated those three former area managers because they violated its code of conduct. They had used the emails of the company to spread false information to other employees in lower positions, such as restaurant managers in a bid to get their support.

He said they claimed they were members of the company's welfare committee even though they were not, and that they persuaded others to support their actions. Being in higher positions and claiming they represented the welfare committee, other lower position employees trusted them.

"Each of the employees is valued. We care for everyone. I don't know who is misguiding them (the three terminated employees)," Milind said.

In a statement, Yum Thailand said that the company had a family of 10,000 workers in 325 restaurants in 72 provinces and that it valued a "pro-employee" environment where employees and the company had a direct relationship.

The statement said that Yum always sought feedback so it could improve its "pro-employee" policies and that it had recently enhanced both short- and long-term benefits for all full-time employees. It added that Yum was committed to complying with the law.

The statement said the management had received a request from some employees who constituted a very small part of the 10,000-strong family, and that senior management had met with the group personally as per the principles of the company's "pro-employee" agenda.

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