The ACTU is very worried by a new report that shows young people working in the fast food industry are being badly treated and calls on the Federal Government to reconsider its plans to axe the national health and safety watchdog that helps protect young workers.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“This study by Job-Watch, a community legal service, shows young people who work in fast food outlets are prone to injury and exploitation. Some of the alarming findings include:

  • Around one in two young people (46%) suffered an injury or illness at the
    workplace but many did not report the problem (24%).
  • More than one in three experienced violence or bullying at work (35%)
    including sexual harassment and even assault.
  • One in ten (10%) were paid less than the legal minimum wage and almost one
    in four (23%) were not paid for attending staff meetings as is legally required.
  • Around one in three (32%) worked very long shifts of 11 hours or more while
    more than half (53%) had worked shifts longer than 8 hours.
  • Nearly one third of young people were not adequately supervised to ensure
    health and safety instructions were being followed and they were not exposed to
    any risks.
  • The young people surveyed worked either in a major fast food chain or in stand-alone outlets including fish and chip shops, general takeaway shops, pizza takeaway shops, ice cream parlours, and juice bars.

    This report paints a disturbing picture of young Australians working hard in the fast food industry but often being underpaid and exposed to unnecessary health and safety risks by their employer.

    Parents will be shocked to know their children are working in such conditions.

    Employers and Governments should lift their game and address these problems seriously. Fast food companies should be required to meet their legal obligations and responsibilities.

    The Federal Government’s anti-union policies are also making it difficult for unions to help young workers receive their proper pay and ensure workplaces are safe.

    In particular, the Government’s plan to abolish the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission should be reconsidered given the likely adverse impact this will have on the development of national workplace health and safety standards that provide protection for people including young workers in the fast food industry.

    The Job-Watch report is available from: