As bushfires threatened homes and lives in Port Macquarie on Friday, November 8, staff at the McDonald's store on the corner of the Pacific Highway and Oxley Highway were allegedly forced to work, according to the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union.
Secretary Josh Cullinan said members who reported the matter to the union were deeply concerned.
"Members reported that they received geo-located SMS messages from the RFS identifying that they should seek shelter as the fire arrived on Friday afternoon (8/11)," he said.
"Those workers were directed by management to remain at their work and continue working because in the view of management the fire risk was not substantial."
Food retailers Subway, KFC and Olivers, all nearby, shut.
The Port News understands workers ended up walking out of the store because they were so concerned about the fire threat.
Then on the next Monday (November 11) a similar situation occurred.
"Workers were concerned that their families and homes were under imminent threat of fires and they wanted to leave the workplace to support their families and defend their homes." Mr Cullinan said.
"Management did not tell workers they could leave.
"Again, workers ended up walking out."
Mr Cullinan said the the fast food giant was putting profits ahead of workers.
"The lives of workers and their families are worth far more than any McDonald's outlet or its profits," he said.
"We are appalled that the outlet was not shut and workers told they can leave, we are appalled that workers had to walk out on their own volition.
"We have demanded that McDonald's inform all its workers that they are free to leave work or not attend work when emergency services alerts or advises workers there is a risk associated with attending work or staying at work."
The matter is now before SafeWork NSW.
A spokesperson for SafeWork NSW said "it is investigating reports staff of a fast food restaurant in Port Macquarie were ordered to continue working despite receiving emergency alerts advising evacuation due to nearby bushfires".
"Safework's investigations are continuing."
The Port News contacted McDonald's for comment.
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