A worker cleans an exterior of a building next to a KFC restaurant in Beijing April 23, 2015. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Restaurant Brands New Zealand, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, was disappointed after its workers decided to go on strike on Saturday. About 2,000 Unite Union members were expected to picket on selected stores in an effort to twist the company's arm over disputed pay and conditions. The affected stores included selected KFC stores in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North, Rotorua and Wellington.

Unite Union has negotiated with the Restaurant Brands New Zealand to pay its workers 10 cents (0.09 cents) an hour each year for three years. In effect, the rise would increase the workers' pay to 30 cents (0.28 cents) an hour which would be above the minimum wage by 2019. But KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks' owner refused the proposal, and it offered just one 10 cent increase over three years.

Unite national director Mike Treen said that their three main concerns were getting workers off the minimum wage and getting supervisors into living wage and pay equity. He said that KFC supervisors were being paid NZ$1.80 (AU$1.67) an hour while cooks were given a NZ$2.50 (AU$2.33) pay rise in 2016. He said that cooks were not school kids and deserved a living wage, adding that Restaurant Brands could afford to pay workers a living wage. On Thursday, the company announced that it earned a profit of $26 million after tax.

Restaurant Brands Group CEO Russel Creedy said that the company's overall package of terms and condition for their employees was better than their competitors in the sector. He said that the company included a faster pathway for new employees to increase their pay rates. Of the major employers in the fast food sector, Restaurant Brands has already led the fast food sector for a security of pay and fixed hours of work. "We are an important first job opportunity for many of our employees, so it's disappointing that the Union has rejected our offer to pay entry level positions above the Adult Minimum Wage, from day one," Creedy said, according to NZ Herald.

Treen said that his members have not had a strike at Restaurant Brands since 2006. He said that the company was the first to sign a collective agreement that set the benchmark in the fast food sector. The company was able to reward staff loyalty with a stepped-pay hike and ditch youth rates. Treen added that the company also moved to a fixed-shift system after the zero hours change.

"They're adopting a position which is going to put them behind McDonald's which we can't allow. McDonald's is normally the difficult one," Treen said. He said that what they were trying to achieve was unacceptable to the workers. He said that if they would have to fight them for months they would fight it for months.

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