Burger King exploits teenage workers in Israel, report says

Fast-food giant dismisses allegations, calling them a "campaign of incitement being waged by a specific person."

By
May 3, 2010 21:49
2 minute read.
A Burger King restaurant.

burger king 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The Burger King chain of fast-food restaurants has been the subject of numerous complaints from their teenage workers here, with the number of such complaints rising by 40 percent in 2009 over the previous year, the Federation of Working and Studying Youth (Hanoar Ha’oved Ve’halo-med) has announced.

The announcement came as part of a special report on teenagers in the workforce in Israel, issued by the organization Sunday in honor of May Day, which fell on Saturday. 

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The report focuses largely on the conduct of Burger King, saying teenage employees had complained about not receiving  much of their legally required compensation, including overtime, sick pay, severance pay, vacation days, and extra pay for working on Shabbat.

The youth movement, which provides legal assistance to those who have had their rights violated at work, said it has received 58 complaints about the fast-food chain over the past two years, 40 of them in the last year alone. These represent a third of all complaints against fast-food restaurants in the past two years, the report said.

The report adds that following the intervention of the youth organization, Burger King compensated teenage employees to the tune of NIS 115,097 in 2009, nearly three times the amount paid out in 2008.

The organization added that they have been working with Burger King on the issue for the past three years, but that in spite of the cooperation and dialogue, the number of complaints from employees has risen.

The group said that  over the past two years it had repeatedly contacted the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry in an attempt to get them to open an investigation into Burger King’s labor practices, a request they say has yet to be answered.




In a press released issued on Sunday, Burger King said that while they “respect all organizations that defend workers’ rights – be they adults or youths,” they dismiss a “campaign of incitement being waged by a specific person within the Federation of Working and Studying Youth against Burger King.”

The statement did not identify the person.

The statement continued that Burger King “employs thousands of workers through a computerized system that accurately ensures the incorporation of all work conditions, including vacation pay, sick pay and workers’ compensation.

“The fact that the report only cited people who contacted them (and not complaints that were found to be correct)…proves that even if there are certain exceptional instances, they do not represent any sort of planned policy on the part of Burger King.”

Burger King said that if it were to “discover a malfunction within the computer system that resulted in overpaying or underpaying, it would be permanently fixed.”

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