Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Join the Boycott, or enjoy a Sub?

The New Zealand blogsphere has gone into overdrive, following revelations a Subway store in Dunedin sacked one of its workers, after she shared her staff soda with a friend.

Jackie Lang was sacked from her 2-year job at the George Street (Dunedin) branch of the 'fast food' sandwich giant, after security video footage showed her sharing a drink of Diet Coke with her friend, then refilling the cup and leaving it on the table.

Following her dismissal, Lang was arrested at her home by Police, locked in a police cell for two hours, and charged with the "theft of two cups of Coke valued at $4". She's due to appear in the Dunedin District Court later this month, and has also lodged an personal grievance case against Subway.

The story featured in the Sunday Star Times newspaper at the weekend, as well as on Sunday's Prime News tv bulletin.

The unusual story has even gone international, being picked up by newspapers in Australia. The major tv networks - TV One and TV3 - picked up on the story today, covering a protest led by the youth wing of the Labour Party, encouraging a boycott of all Subway restaurants.
Now kiwi blogs are joining in on the act, with a "Bloggers Boycott of Subway Restaurants", led by Aucklander at Large. At the time of this post, 17 blogs had signed up to the boycott, which encourages people "not to visit any Subway stores until the charges against Ms Lang are dropped, and she is given her job back."

While Jackie seems to have got a raw deal by her manager (with no disciplinary procedures or system of warnings followed), I'm not sure that I can join in on such a boycott.

One is because I quite like Subway's sandwiches (the Toasted Cheese Steak is a particular favourite, although doesn't really come close to a 'Philly Cheese Steak'). They're vaguely healthy (for those that choose the low fat options)... and hey, there's real unprocessed raw vegetables in your sandwich! :-)
The other reason I can't condone joining the Bloggers' boycott is because the CTU and other socialist organisations are trying to use Lang's case as a black mark against probationary employment law.

National MP Wayne Mapp's bill would have offered a 90-day probationary period of employment, allowing both employers and new employees to walk away from the agreement if they're not satisfied, without the threat of personal grievance procedures.

This change is still badly needed, with businesses reluctant to take on bad and lazy workers they will then be stuck with for life. The 90-day rules of the Mapp bill would never have been in effect here, with Lang employed by Subway for around two years.

Lang now has another job, and I doubt she wants her Subway job back as the protestors are demanding.

Finally, Subway restaurants are individually franchised operations, so as one commentor on the main boycott website notes, "This boycott would be like punishing a group of siblings because one of them misbehaved."

* Stuff: Subway calls cops over drink-sharing
* TV3 - 3 News: Students show support for sacked Subway worker
* TV3 - Campbell Live: The Subway sacking debacle (with video)

* Update: Dunedin Police are apparently dropping the charge of "theft of 2 cups of Diet Coke, valued at $4...

Posted in |


  1. Heine Says:

    The NZ Bloggers Union was against this action from the start. I feel that I have created a monster ever since creating the union as we have had two similar "bloggers" action groups getting active, this anti Subway thing and the pro Fijian bloggers nonsense.

    The NZBU that week was promoting Subway and other multinational fast food companies :)