Cheap Labor and Fast Food
Over the past few years, there are many controversies over the foreign owned fast food restaurants such as KFC and McDonald's in China. Recently, some part-time workers accuse them of unfair treatment including offering low wage, requiring long work hours, unequal agreement, and refusing to give workers labour contract.
New Express (Xin Kuaibao), a Guangzhou based newspaper, yesterday covered a two-month labor survey on the foreign owned fast food companies such as KFC and McDonald's in its four full pages. According to the research, the labor conditions of them violate some Chinese law. There are a lot of problems remaining to be solved.
The part-time workers' salary of KFC is 4.7 yuan (US$0.6) per hour. Pizza Hut is 5.8 yuan (US$0.72). The wage level of McDonald's is the lowest, only 4 yuan (US$0.5) per hour. With this hourly salary, the worker could not even afford to buy a medium-sized cup of coke.
However, according to Guangzhou's first standard for part-time worker, the minimum hourly wage is 7.5 yuan (US$0.93). In other words, the wage of all these foreign owned restaurants is lower than it.
Apart from low wage, overtime is another general problem. According to regulations, a part-time worker could work for an employer longer than 5 hours on average each day. If the working hour exceeds this standard, the employer has to hire him/her as full-time worker and take related responsibilities for him/her.
The survey found that there are a lot of overtime part-time workers in these foreign owned restaurants. Some even work longer than 10 hours each day. They work like full-time workers and the shop owners also allow and encourage them to do so.
It also noted that after most part-time workers, who are university students, sign agreement contract with the employers, they could not obtain it on time. Some even could not get a copy of it. The managers of some restaurants revise the contract without notifying the workers.
Source: Hong Kong Economic Journal 2007.3.29
Photo: Xie Xian he Luobote