March 18, 2015 / 3:11 PM / 4 years ago

Brazilian unions file 2nd lawsuit against McDonald's operator

SAO PAULO, March 18 (Reuters) - Brazilian unions on Wednesday filed another lawsuit against the largest operator of McDonald’s restaurants in Latin America, alleging that the firm violates the country’s labor laws.

The suit against Arcos Dourados Comércio de Alimentos Ltda, the Brazilian division of Buenos Aires-based Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc, came just days after McDonald’s Corp workers from 19 U.S. cities filed state and federal complaints over working conditions.

It also followed a similar filing made by Brazilian unions in late February.

Wednesday’s lawsuit aims to “guarantee health and safety in the workplace,” according to a joint statement from the unions, which are backed by CUT and UTG, two of Brazil’s largest labor federations.

The unions demand that Arcos Dourados establish specific job functions for each employee and hire more workers under that model while paying compensation for any moral and punitive damages caused to current and former employees.

The lawsuit also demands that Arcos Dourados deliver a working plan to Brazil’s labor ministry within 90 days or face a daily fine of 100,000 reais ($30,864).

Fines for violations of Brazilian labor law can vary between 1 percent and 30 percent of a company’s annual sales.

Arcos Dorados’ Brazilian division had 833 restaurants and total revenue of $460.9 million for the third quarter that ended Sept. 30.

A separate lawsuit filed by Brazilian unions on Feb. 24 accused Arcos Dourados of unwholesome and unsanitary working conditions, time-clock fraud and failing to pay mandatory unemployment and retirement insurance.

It also said Arcos Dourados paid below legal or contractual minimum wages, forced double-shift work without breaks, made workers take in-restaurant lunch breaks with employer-supplied food and failed to make mandatory severance payments. That suit aims to ban the opening of any new McDonald’s restaurants in Brazil until the problems are fixed.

An Arcos Dorados spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that the company had not yet been officially informed of the lawsuit.

“Still, the company continues to reaffirm, with conviction, that it complies with all labor laws, respects the rights of all its workers, and maintains labor practices that have been recognized by the market,” the statement said.

$1 = 3.24 Brazilian reais Reporting by Asher Levine; Editing by Paul Simao

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