Sunday, April 30, 2006

Burger King Allows Labor Rights Violations

Thanks to Eduardo Kaffati, the Burgler King. Let him know personally:

Abe Huyser Honing

Go Away, Right Away

That's the essence of what employees of several Burger Kings in the Central American country of Honduras were told in wee hours of the night shift by managers cautious to make sure no customers were witness to their illegal firings.

And it's essentially the message Miami-based Burger King Corporation has given to U.S. advocates who've approached the company on the workers' behalf.

In Honduras, the owners of Burger King and other fast-food restaurants are all too accustomed to getting their way, right away.

A "Tourism Incentive" law allows them to set up shop tax-free. ("Let's fly to Tegucigalpa, Honduras-I hear they have great Whoppers there!" Right.)

The fact that the Minister of Labor works side by side at the same law firm as the lawyer for BK's Honduras franchise owner probably doesn't hurt, either.

So last year when execs at INTUR, the company that runs all of Honduras' Burger Kings, got wind that some workers in these restaurants were organizing to ask for a few things their way (complaints included having to pay for uniforms out of their meagre salaries and being forced to work overtime without pay), the execs apparently were not happy.

They demonstrated this unhappiness by firing 27 employees of Burger King and other INTUR-owned fast-food restaurants whose names appeared on a list of "organized" workers-never mind that most had never attended a meeting or even knew where they were held-and denying them the two-months' severance pay required by Honduran law for firings without warning.

Mandatory severance pay might sound to the U.S. ear like a cushy deal. But in Honduras, where companies like BK can pay their employees as low as $120 a month and the unemployment rate shoots upwards of 36%, it can mean the difference between satisfying your children's hunger or feeding them stone soup.

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