BIU increase the pressure on KFC with flyers
The windscreens of cars and trucks parked on Queen Street were lined with flyers at lunch time yesterday, calling on residents to boycott Kentucky Fried Chicken (Bermuda) Ltd.
Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert was not fazed by the long lines inside KFC Bermuda's only franchise restaurant on one of the busiest days of the week for the fast food eatery.
The flyer carrying six bullet points notes that “after 40 years of a good working relationship with KFC, management now says the benefits that the workers have earned will be reversed”.
Mr Furbert said: “When we look at the issue of redundancy pay for instance, if somebody is made redundant at KFC right now, the maximum they can get is 52 weeks severance pay.
“If they put them under the Employment Act 2000, they will only get 26 weeks severance pay, that's just one item.
“But if you look at all the benefits the employees enjoy right now, KFC would have the intention of taking them backwards and that is what the BIU is here to fight against.”
The flyer also states: “The Canadian Controller/Director of KFC is ignoring the industrial relations process in Bermuda by denying workers their fundamental rights at work.”
But the fourth point listed on the flyer points up the untimely death of a KFC employee who was accused of abusing sick leave.
“An employee calls in sick, presents a doctor's certificate. Management states 'it was abuse of sick leave', a few weeks later the employee died.”
When questioned on this point, KFC Director Jason Benevides said: “KFC does not comment on matters in respect of individual employees.
In an interview with
The Royal Gazette, Mr Furbert said: “Today it's KFC, tomorrow it will be employees who work for other companies.
“If you allow KFC to do this then its precedent setting for the rest of the employers in this country and that's dangerous.”
When asked how he felt about the long lines inside KFC at lunchtime on Friday, Mr Furbert said: “They probably haven't heard the news yet, and we recognise that until the information gets out there, some people don't know that we've asked for this boycott.
“We're going to do what we can to get the information out to the public to support the boycott. This is not about Chris Furbert trying to keep his members.
“We're here to protect the rights of the workers, KFC management is trying to take away the rights that we've negotiated for KFC workers for just about 40 years now.”
Meanwhile, Mr Benevides said: “KFC was disappointed to learn of the flyers distributed by Mr Furbert which were seemingly intended to defame the company with vague accusations and half-truths.”
Instead he said the union would be much better served by discussing the full proposal “put forward by KFC in February”, which KFC is willing to do.
“We remain willing to sit down with the BIU,” said Mr Benevides. “Until such time as the BIU is ready to participate in the labour relations process collaboratively, KFC will continue to focus its efforts on serving its customers and treating its employees fairly.”
But Mr Furbert said yesterday: “I sent a letter to KFC Chairman Donald Lines on Monday, April 9. I'm refuting what Mr Benevides has said, KFC has not replied to me, they replied to Glen Fubler at Labour Relations.
“I got a copy of what they sent to Mr Fubler, that's not replying to my letter that I sent to the chairman. I would expect if they were going to reply to my letter then Mr Lines or Mr Benevides would have replied directly to the letter that I sent to the chairman on April 9.”
But more importantly he said: “The main message is its KFC today, tomorrow it could be somebody else.”
And the bottom line on day one of the boycott for KFC said Mr Benevides: “Initial indications are that business has been brisk in the store and KFC wishes to thank its customers for their strong show of support.”