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KFC urges union to resume talks

Fast food company KFC is appealing to the Bermuda Industrial Union to return to discussions to resolve their dispute.

But the union says that nothing has changed since it issued a boycott call against the company last week.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Patrice Minors met with BIU President Chris Furbert on Monday,

The Royal Gazette understands.

In a letter to the Editor (see page 4), the company says that the BIU is shirking its responsibilities to its workers by not participating in discussions.

“There is no greater mockery of the labour relations process than one party refusing to participate in discussions with the other and refusing to accept the provisions of an agreement which was freely negotiated and executed,” the company says.

The BIU has called for a boycott of the company, saying it is trying to roll back workers’ benefits.

“Rather than fulfilling its duty to KFC workers, the BIU seems willing to sacrifice the financial security of those workers by walking away from negotiations and through actions such as:

1) irrational demands that KFC direct the workers’ pension contributions into a pension plan whose administration and solvency is in question;

2) trying to promote a boycott of KFC which, if successful, would likely lead to reduced income for KFC’s workers (if not unemployment); and

3) rejecting a proposal brought forward by KFC during negotiations that would introduce a profit sharing scheme for workers.

“KFC continues to encourage the BIU to return to a productive discussion about matters specifically relevant to KFC and KFC’s workers. It is only through a return to the negotiating table that the parties will be able to find a way to resolve their present differences.”

KFC decided to discontinue contributions to the Restaurant Pension Fund last year — to protect the interests of the employees, it said at the time.

The dispute has been festering since last year when KFC said it wanted to modify its collective bargaining agreement with the union.

The parties failed to agree and the company then gave notice that it would be terminating the agreement.

That led to the union issuing an ultimatum to reinstate the agreement or face a boycott.

Union president Chris Furbert was unable to respond fully to a request for comment by press time, but he indicated that nothing had changed from the union’s perspective.

Economy Minister Patrice Minors did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

While the union wants the dispute to go to arbitration, the company has warned the Government that sending the dispute to arbitration would not be lawful and could be challenged in court.

About 30 workers, full and part time, are affected.

Photo by Mark Tatem Fast food outlet KFC, on Queen Street, is appealing for the Bermuda Industrial Union to resume discussions to end an ongoing dispute.

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Published April 18, 2012 at 9:59 am (Updated April 18, 2012 at 9:58 am)

KFC urges union to resume talks

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