Exploited, Fired, Now Expelled? Immigrant Workers Occupy Paris Buffalo Grill

Posted: July 2, 2007 in Uncategorized

Demonstrating Buffalo Grill Employees

Photo: Les espérances planétariennes

Thanks to Eric Lee, at LabourStart, for notice of this issue. A longer version of the following is posted at the web site of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), an international federation of trade unions representing 12 million workers in 120 countries.

Poorly paid and routinely pressured to perform un- or inadequately-compensated overtime, irregular migrants employed at the French-based fast food chain Buffalo Grill are fighting back after being denounced to the authorities and fired or pressured to quit their jobs. The migrants, mostly of African origin, many with years of employment at the chain, face expulsion from the France of Nicolas Sarkozy to their country of origin.

Last year, a popular immigrant Buffalo Grill worker announced his candidacy for workplace representation elections. in February 2007, his irregular employment status was “anonymously” denounced to the police, who proceeded to control the employment papers of the chain’s more than 600 foreign workers. Four were fired and others pressured to resign. A group of undocumented workers, supported by the Commerce, Distribution and Services Federation of the CGT (FCDS-CGT), is fighting back by occupying the Buffalo Grill in Viry-Chatillon, in the South of Paris. The police have not yet moved to enforce a court order to evacuate the premises and the occupation continues.

Buffalo Grill, based in France, operates close to 300 restaurants in France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, employing over 6,000 workers. Two top executives of the chain were investigated on manslaughter charges in 2003 following revelations that the company had violated the French ban on importing British beef during the mad cow disease embargo of 1996-2000.

Since 2005, Buffalo Griill has been owned by the US property investment fund Colony Capital, owners of the Fairmont/Raffles and Kerzner hotel and resort chains. Colony Capital has also taken a significant stake in the Accor hotel and services group.

The FCDS-CGT is demanding the reinstatement of all Buffalo Grill workers fired or forced to resign, along with regularization of their employment status and an end to all legal and police measures. You can support their struggle by sending a message (in English and French) in support of these demands to Buffalo Grill and Colony Capital management.

Click here to send a message of support. Copies of your message will automatically be sent to the union and to the secretariat.

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