KFC Responds To Recent BIU & BTUC Statements

May 31, 2012

[Updated] Kentucky Fried Chicken (Bermuda) Limited released a statement saying they wish to publicly clarify its position which has been “inaccurately represented by the BIU and BTUC in the past week.”

The full list of points from KFC follows below:

  • KFC has never “agreed” to have outstanding issues with the BIU settled via involuntary binding arbitration.
  • If the courts ultimately compel arbitration, then KFC will participate as necessary.
  • KFC is not changing its name. However, it has established a subsidiary named KFC Operations Ltd. (“KFCO”) which will assume the operations of the KFC restaurant. The BIU was advised of this new subsidiary months ago and that any new collective agreement would need to be with the operating subsidiary.
  • KFC has no intent “…to introduce a strategy to terminate an existing collective bargaining agreement…” as the BTUC claims. Such a strategy would be unnecessary since the collective agreement ended almost six months ago.
  • KFC has not violated the Trade Union Act 1965 and continues to be available for negotiations with the BIU when the BIU is willing to meet. Since the BIU has publicly refused to continue negotiations with KFC, it is the BIU that seems to be in violation of the Trade Union Act 1965.
  • The BTUC did not contact KFC to confirm the accuracy of BIU claims nor attempt to get answers to its questions directly from KFC. The BTUC has been invited to meet directly with KFC before jumping to conclusions based on half of a story.
  • KFC does not understand why the BTUC would be “gravely concerned” about the consequences of KFC’s success in a transparent and impartial court review. However, if they are concerned about the consequences of a court deciding in KFC’s favour then they should encourage the BIU to negotiate with KFC to reach an agreement and eliminate the need for further arbitration or court proceedings.
  • Bermuda’s Chief Justice has granted leave for KFC to apply for judicial review of Minister Minors’ arbitration order and has stayed any arbitration proceedings pending the results of that review.
  • KFC’s objective is not to put its employees out of work, but rather to restructure the company to better ensure a successful business and continued employment opportunities for all of its staff.
  • Out of respect for the ongoing judicial process, and to allow the minority of its employees who have yet to express their willingness to accept new employment with KFCO time to get their questions answered, KFC will voluntarily adjust its reorganisation schedule to allow those employees to temporarily continue employment with KFC. KFCO thanks its new health insurer for its co-operation in providing temporary accommodation for the remaining KFC employees during this extended transition period.

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Update 7.30pm: KFC Director Jason Benevides released a written statement, it follows in full below:

On behalf of Kentucky Fried Chicken (Bermuda) Limited (“KFCB”), please allow me to clarify the company’s position which has been inaccurately represented by the BIU and BTUC in the past week.

KFCB has not “agreed” to have outstanding issues with the BIU settled via binding arbitration. An “Agreement” should be just that – a contract where the contents have been agreed between the parties. Once freely agreed, the provisions of that Agreement should be honoured by all parties, including any provision for termination. A contract unwillingly imposed by a third party is not by any reasonable definition an agreement – it’s just an imposed contract.

KFCB is not changing its company name. Many months ago the company formed a new subsidiary: KFC Operations Ltd. (“KFCO”). The use of a parent holding company and operating subsidiary is common in Bermuda and throughout the world. KFCB’s desire to modernize its corporate structure to be consistent with global best practice is not connected to the company’s long running discussions with the BIU regarding labour relations matters. Nonetheless, in the spirit of openness and transparency, the BIU were advised of the formation of the new subsidiary and the intention that future operations and employment would be conducted via the operating subsidiary (and as such any new collective agreement would need to be in the name of the new subsidiary). KFCB does not recall the BIU expressing any objection to or concern with the planned change.

The BTUC has falsely claimed that KFCB’s corporate reorganization is an attempt “…to introduce a strategy to terminate an existing collective bargaining agreement…”. That claim is simply untrue. KFCB’s collective agreement with the BIU terminated nearly 6 months ago in accordance with that agreement’s contractual provisions. KFCB doesn’t need a strategy to terminate a collective agreement which isn’t in force and hasn’t been in force for months.

The BTUC has suggested that KFCB is violating a section of the Trade Union Act 1965 which requires an employer and a union to negotiate in good faith for collective bargaining. KFCB has consistently and publicly committed to participate in good faith negotiations with the BIU and continues to maintain that offer. Meanwhile, the BIU walked away from negotiations in March 2012 and has since publicly refused to return to negotiations unless some unreasonable and unnecessary preconditions are met. It seems clear that if any party is violating the terms of section 30L of the Trade Union Act 1965 it is the BIU.

The BTUC has never contacted KFCB seeking to confirm the accuracy of any claim made by the BIU nor to request an opportunity to raise any concerns it has with KFCB in order to hear the company’s response first hand. In the interest of achieving a balanced picture, KFCB has now invited the BTUC to discuss its concerns directly with KFCB before jumping to irrational conclusions based on half of a story.

The BTUC has gone on record expressing its “grave concern” about the possible consequences of KFCB’s success in seeking leave for judicial review. It is shocking to think that the BTUC would be opposed to a legitimate and transparent review of Bemuda’s laws by impartial courts. KFCB wishes to confirm it is now in receipt of an order from Bermuda’s Chief Justice granting leave for the Supreme Court to undertake a judicial review of Minister Minors’ decision to invoke involuntary binding arbitration. The court has stayed the proceedings of any arbitration panel pending the outcome of the judicial review process. KFCB welcomes this development and looks forward to having the court consider its submissions.

As the BTUC has expressed its concerns about the potential wide reaching consequences of a court ruling upholding KFCB’s position, it is perplexing that the BTUC is not encouraging the BIU to return to negotiations with KFCB in order to reach a fair agreement that meets the needs of the company and its workers. A freely negotiated agreement between KFCO and the BIU would eliminate the purpose of any involuntary arbitration proceedings and would likewise eliminate the need for the courts to review the matters that KFCB has placed before them.

In light of the court ordered postponement of any arbitration proceedings, and out of respect for the pending judicial review process, KFCB will voluntarily modify its reorganisation schedule so that certain employees may temporarily remain employed by KFCB while the court review process is underway. The remainder of our staff have assumed employment with KFCO from June 1st 2012.

To-date a majority of KFCB’s employees have indicated their willingness to voluntarily accept new statements of employment with KFCO. The company is grateful to the majority of its employees for their support of the company’s necessary restructuring. For the minority of workers who have not yet accepted KFCO statements of employment and have additional questions regarding KFCB’s restructuring, a staff meeting will be held within the next week to allow the company to provide any additional information and clarification those employees require.

KFCB’s intention is and always has been to offer fair employment terms to its staff which are as generous as reasonably possible and sustainable while providing a fair return to shareholders over time. The company does not and never has wanted to see its staff lose employment in a difficult economic environment. It is, in part, to ensure stability of employment that the company must make certain cost reforms.

It would be ironic if the company’s efforts to protect jobs resulted in employees becoming unemployed due to misunderstandings regarding employment rights and benefits. To try to ensure every employee has a fair opportunity to understand the reforms that KFCB is implementing and to receive the information necessary to choose to continue their employment via KFCO, a slight adjustment to the company’s reorganisation plans is appropriate. While this change in plans will result in some inconvenience and additional costs for KFCB in the short-term, it is the right thing to do at this time for the fair treatment of workers and the long-term viability of the company.

Sincerely,
Jason Benevides
Director
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Bermuda) Limited

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Comments (22)

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  1. Hudson says:

    The Unions on this Island are an embarassment.

  2. isittrue says:

    Is Chris Furbert (and now BTUC) intimidated or scared of KFC management? just talk to the people. or does he simply hate them that much?

    • Gibbo says:

      He hates any business that doesnot crumble at his command…………….glad I’m not unionised he would never tell me I couldn’t go to work

  3. Team KFC says:

    Stand firm KFC! Do not back down.

    Wannabe “King” Furbert thinks he can do what he wants. Please do us a favour and show him otherwise. Show him who is BOSS :)

  4. allcloggedup says:

    BPSU is linked to the BIU …… this is not good. Time for another general council meeting with Grant/Ball to reverse membership in BTUC.

  5. Bermuda Autopsy says:

    KFC 2
    BIU 0

  6. jt says:

    Zing(ers).

  7. Zombie Apocalypse says:

    Will our learned friend LaVerne please come on and let us have her expert legal opinion about this?

  8. Finger Lickin' Good says:

    check ……..
    You’re move Mr Furbert

    • GVT Mechanic says:

      They just made it! An 8am meeting tomorrow morning – designed to create as much havoc for the working man/woman as possible. The BIU is a disgrace.

  9. Smh says:

    U stupid bermudians make me lol, a company is trying to do away with basic workers rights gets votes on bernews because u dont like chris furbet. I bet all 99% of the hate comes from white ppl who dont need the union anyway

    • pulease says:

      @ Smh- what you think with no BIU we going to be sweeping the streets for pennies a day? The BIU has become over-obsessed and fundamentally out-of-touch. I would rather have a smart workforce working in conjunction with management than the BIU striking left right and center and wasting our time (and money). And yes, the “leader” is Mr. Furbert, so naturally he is the one in the firing line and yes, he is not very well liked. So what. And no, I’m not white.

    • Hmmmmmm says:

      What workers rights are they trying to do away with. Basic ones you say. Go on then, list the basic rights KFC are trying to do away with.

    • Shaking My Head.. says:

      Fool.

    • Mad Dawg says:

      What basic workers rights exactly? The 14 weeks vacation? Or the 30 days sick leave that can be carried forward if unused?

  10. Goodbye Bermy!! says:

    My question is did Chris Furbert and his cronies read this letter to the membership or did he spin his idiotic short version to them. Because all I hear from him is the employers are trying to destroy the workers rights. I think all BIU members should get that real facts from both sides before rushing to go on strike etc…read the dam KFC press release yourselves and then decide.

  11. Mad Dawg says:

    So LaVerne, how am I supposed to go to work tomorrow? Its ok for you lot with your GP cars and union vans. I have to rely on public transport, and I’ll be two hours late tomorrow. Thanks a frikkin lot.

    • Shaking My Head.. says:

      Need I remind you it is tourist season??..

  12. Yes says:

    She likely busy photocopying cheesy posters !! Lol

  13. Build a better Bermuda says:

    Time has come to legislate union practices to ensure they stick to protecting their members rights within the law, and not let a minority of them run rampant like spoiled children when ever they don’t get their way, especially when they are so far out in the wrong. First and foremost, a ban from calling meetings during standard business hours, second, operations should cease unless up to date financial reporting is maintained so that all members can know where dues collected are going. This last measure should be balanced with ensuring that collective bargaining agreements remain in effect, just suspend the ability to conduct financial collecting and transactions. The greatest threat to to Bermudian employment and economy is Chris Furbert and any that continue to support his position, take a stand Andy free Bermuda from thug masters.

  14. I Am an Honourable Minister says:

    send Parice to fry some chicken and fries in that 5 day old grease in her jimmy choo shoes and red donna karen dress and she will soon figure out what collective bargaining is all about, she of all people definately needs representation

    when is she gonna be remved from Cabinet Madam Premier, ? dont you see Patrice is a liability to your Administration, the new and improved Good Governance administration that does no wrong, why is there not more fuss about the RG article that broke the story about her house at southside that wasnt offered to the public and her husbands stupid defensive press release

    when can i wake up from this Paula Cox and Patrice minors nightmare?

    Um scared and all a that there Bie