Press Release: Unite Union
About 20 police were used to move a peaceful union picket away from the entrance to a McDonald’s restaurant in Queen Street in Auckland yesterday.
Union members were picketing the store to protest the breakdown in negotiations over their collective agreement. After about an hour two paddy wagons turned up and forcibly shoved picketers aside.
Unite national Director Mike Treen who was at the picket said at no time did the police say what was legally wrong with the picket.
“We were making plenty of noise” said Mr Treen, “but at no time were customers physically stopped from entering or leaving the store.”
“I asked the officer in charge what law we were breaking that allowed the police to force us away from the entrance of the store. He replied that we were reducing the number of customers from entering the store. I tried to explain to him that it was out legal right to try and convince customers not to enter the store but he ordered the police to shove the picketers away.
“At no stage did he try and talk to me as the union official in charge and get us to change the way we were conducting the picket if he thought it wasn’t legally appropriate. The police simply forced their way behind the picket and shoved us to the other side of the pavement.
“It seems extraordinary to me that McDonald’s can make a phone call and have cops turn up in force to act as their private security guards. They stayed there for another hour and achieved nothing except waste police resources.
“It is a sickening situation to have McDonalds able to have 20 or more police available at a moments notice but when they are needed for a burglary or robbery they seem hard to find.
“A female Unite staff member was punched in the chest. Other picketers were shoved to the ground.
“We know that big companies can kill workers on the job and it seems nothing can be done to hold them to account. We have workers cheated out of their legal breaks time at companies like McDonalds but you can’t call police to arrest the bosses. Why should these companies be able to call the cops to “protect” their stores when nothing illegal was being done by the workers picketing outside.”
View a video of the picket: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18076151/Mcd010513.wmv