By Shemar Blunt
Workers at three KFC locations walked off the job on Friday, saying they could no longer stomach the poor working conditions at the popular fast food restaurant.
Just after 1 pm, employees at the Oistins, Warrens, and Hastings branches left their posts and stood outside to draw attention to their plight.
“This is not a strike; this is just to have it reiterated [that] the workers are protesting the conditions that present them in imminent danger and put their safety and their health at risk,” General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Toni Moore told the media at the Oistins branch where several union officials met with workers.
Explaining those conditions, she said: “What we are facing is a situation where a number of locations across the KFC franchise have had to invoke Section 104 of the Safety and Health at Work Act, Specifically, that section speaks about workers having the right to refuse work or to remove themselves from conditions of work that present them in imminent danger – them and their colleagues.
“For this location, the complaints are about a stench [and] the complaints surround heat. That is the one that really was the straw that broke the camel’s back and had the workers on the outside. Heat in the customer area; heat in the kitchen is, as you would imagine, 10 times worse.”
The BWU boss also pointed to “complaints and evidence of insects and so on in the place”.
Moore was adamant that no actions to intimidate workers or prevent them from exercising their rights would be tolerated.
“Your job cannot be compromised because you remove yourself from a condition where you perceive yourself to be in imminent danger,” Moore said, noting that the Labour Department and the Public Health Department were called in.
“This is not only about the workers, because if these conditions are as serious as they present themselves to us, then one has to wonder about the safety of the consumer as well.”
Meanwhile, one of the protesting workers who requested anonymity, told Barbados TODAY the situation had long gotten out of hand.
In addition to needing an increase in pay, the worker said, the work environment was untenable.
“In there does be real hot. Them got ACs that don’t even work, fans that want cleaning, fans that are full of dust, the flour all up in the AC. We don’t get nothing from that, and we does be in there baking,” the employee lamented.