Workers at San Churro’s Brunswick Street store in Fitzroy are now being paid penalty rates for the first time. Their win came after they joined UNITE and decided to stand up for themselves.
San Churro is a popular chain cafe with opening hours from morning until after midnight. The chain employs over 300 staff and turns over an estimated $7 million per year.
Many of the workers at San Churro regularly work in the evening, at night and on weekends. Despite these hours, San Churro head office was until recently refusing to pay penalty rates to compensate for consistently working anti-social hours.
UNITE made contact with these workers through the ‘Respect Workers Rights Campaign’. Initially, head office refused the but reconsidered when they were faced with an organised work force, a planned protest and widespread negative publicity.
Penalty rates will make a big difference to many of the workers at San Churro. For some it will mean hundreds of dollars more in their pay packets every week!
The lesson to be learnt from the San Churro workers is that it is possible for workers in retail, fast food and hospitality to win basic rights like penalty rates. The key is to be organised in a union and be prepared to stand up against the boss!
Employers never voluntarily hand over wages or conditions that reduce their profits or control. From penalty rates to lunch rooms and toilets, all the things that workers enjoy today were won through struggle. The only way to maintain the gains of the past is for workers to be organised.
If you work in fast food or retail and you want to get penalty rates then you and your workmates should follow the example of the San Churro workers! Get organised and join UNITE today!