Fast food, Malmö – 18-20 juin 2001


Malmö, 18-20/6/2001

Item 9: Fast food

The fast food segment is dominated by a number of transnational corporations: McDonald’s, Autogrill, Tricon, and Diageo (in order of importance). McDonald’s is the subject of a specific report under Appendix 1.

Autogrill – Italian-based corporation controlled by the Benetton Group, active in roadside, contract (airports, shopping centres, railway stations) and public (Spizzico) catering. Has operations in Europe, the United States (HMS Host), Australia and Asia.

Solidarity action supported by EFFAT and the IUF help unlock negotiations over salaries and health benefits in HMS Host restaurant operations at the Hartford (Connecticut) Bradley Airport in the US.

Autogrill’s corporate management shows no inclination to implement a European Works Council. An initial meeting of the special negotiation committee held in July 2000 showed no results. To our knowledge, no other meeting has been scheduled.

Tricon : Born of the former Pepsi-Cola restaurant operations, the company includes the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC brands. The European Council is built on the PepsiCo, that is, with no control on the part of unions. In addition, a growing number of units are owned by franchisees.

Diageo : Specialised in beverages, the group was born of the merger of GrandMet and Guinness in 1997. Owns Burger King (more than 11,330 outlets in 58 countries, of which 92% are franchise operations), which employs more than 361,000, but only 16,800 directly. Diageo intends to spin off Burger King to focus on its beverage activities.

These companies present a number of characteristics that constitute challenges for trade union organisations:

    • Employment in these organisations is essentially transitional in nature (students, retired or semi-retired, etc.);
    • With the exception of a core of senior and intermediate management, employment is mainly part-time and sometimes casual;
    • Employers require multiskilling, meaning that any employee can be called upon to fill any position;
    • Employers are seeking to sidestep the application of hotel-restaurant sectoral collective bargaining agreements and to impose more restrictive rules on fast-food operations employees. This is what happened in Denmark in 1988-1989, resulting in strong opposition by Danish trade unions, soon supported by other Nordic unions and the IUF. The same happened in Belgium in May, 2001, when companies in the segment (McDonald’s and Quick, among others) established an employers’ organisation (Belgian Modern Restaurant Association – BEMORA) for the sole purpose of putting pressure on the social counterparts in the process of renewing the national sectoral collective bargaining agreement so that the employers’ organisations would not sign the negotiated text.
    • The level of unionisation is very low in the segment, due both to high staff turnover and aggressive union-busting policies by the employers.

The Conference may wish to indicate the level of priority that it assesses to the Trade Group as regards the development of coordinated action in the fast-food segment.