The fast food union is suing the franchisee behind the Windsor West McDonald’s. Picture: AAP image, John Gass
The fast food union is suing the franchisee behind the Windsor West McDonald’s. Picture: AAP image, John Gass

Maccas staff allegedly threatened over toilet, drink breaks

A McDONALD'S franchisee running several Queensland stores has been accused of subjecting young staff at a Brisbane outlet to "cruel and inhumane working conditions" by denying them a drink or toilet break outside their paid 10-minute breaks.

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (Fast Food Union) has sued franchisee Tantex Holdings Pty Ltd (Tantex) in the Federal Court in Brisbane, alleging Tantex broke workplace laws by "threatening" to take action against staff who exercised their workplace rights to breaks or days off sick.

The Fast Food Union claims Tantex general manager Chris Crenicean told staff "that Tantex could lawfully prevent" staff at the Windsor West fast food outlet in Brisbane from "drinking water or using the toilet outside of their scheduled breaks" in a Facebook post on January 5, according to the claim filed in court earlier this month.

"So I hope to God you don't get thirsty on your next shift because we just wouldn't be able to allow a drink," Mr Crenicean wrote on Facebook, according to the claim. The Fast Food Union alleged Mr Crenicean's claim "constituted a threat" and was false because Tantex "was not entitled ... to prevent" staff at the Winsdor West store from "drinking water or using the toilet outside of their scheduled breaks".

McDonald's staff were entitled to paid drink breaks under their enterprise agreement, which was approved by the Fair Work Commission on July 24, 2013, the claim stated.

After working four hours they were entitled to a 10-minute paid drink break, and after nine hours work they were entitled to a second paid 10-minute drink break.

The union also claimed that a ban on staff taking breaks beyond the 10-minute breaks they were allowed on shifts four hours and longer, "would deny those employees a safe and healthy workplace".

Mr Crenicean's post came just weeks after Tantex took over the franchise for the Windsor West store on Lutwyche Road, the claim stated.

The claim also alleged that Central Station store manager Crystal Locke falsely represented to the Central Station staff that they were not entitled to call in sick on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or any public holidays.

The union also alleged that Ms Locke "falsely represented" to the Central station employees that they were banned from calling in sick after 10pm if they were rostered on the next day.

The union alleged she made the false claim in a Facebook post to staff who were members of the Central Station (McDonald's) Facebook Group on December 21, 2018. "I will not accept a sick call past 10pm for an open," Ms Locke was alleged to have posted.

A former worker at the Myer McDonald's outlet, Chiara Staines, is a party to the unions claim, suing Tantex for breaching the enterprise agreement by not giving her paid 10-minute drink breaks for 18 months between May 2017 and December 2018.

Federal Court Judge John Logan ordered the case be heard on June 1 and 2 next year. Tantex must file its defence by February 7, and the parties have been told to try to resolve the case in mediation on a day between February 28 and March 13.

A McDonalds spokeswoman said Tantex's owners said "as this is a matter before the courts, it would be inappropriate for them to comment on the specifics of the matter."