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Fast-food Giants 'Violate Pay Rules' for Part-timers
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At McDonald's, they're not loving it; at KFC, they are working their fingers to the bone; and at Pizza Hut, they're not getting enough dough, forget the toppings.

So says a popular local newspaper, which claimed yesterday that the US fast-food giants are violating China's labor laws by under-paying part-time workers by up to 40 percent in their local chains.

The southern metropolis set the minimum wage at 7.5 yuan (US$97 cents) per hour for part-time workers at the beginning of this year, higher than most parts of the country, according to the New Express.

But McDonald's pays only 4 yuan (US$52 cents), KFC 4.7 yuan (US$61 cents) and Pizza Hut 5 yuan (US$65 cents) per hour for those who work as part-timers, it said, citing its own investigation.

The municipal labor authorities will investigate the matter, Zhang Fengqi, deputy director of the provincial labor and social security department, said yesterday.

"We will ask the fast-food chains to compensate the part-timers if they are found to have violated labor laws," he said. "If the case is serious, they will be dealt with according to law."

Wang Huaping, one of the reporters who went undercover to work part time in McDonald's, said: "The three fast-food chains have also asked the part-timers to work longer than the maximum five hours a day, deliberately refused to sign labor contracts or insure them against workplace injuries, and prolonged their probation periods."

She said her newspaper had received many complaints before they started the investigation.

"What we have uncovered is alarming. Very often, we had to work for as long as more than 10 hours a day."

She said that about 70 percent of the part-timers in the fast-food stores are college students.

"I really wonder how they can manage their studies after such exhausting work."

In response, Long Jingxiong, a spokesperson for the Guangdong branch of Yum! Brands Inc, which owns both KFC and Pizza Hut, said the Chinese labor law "does not set concrete minimum wage standards" for part-timers.

McDonald's did not respond to queries till late last evening.

McDonald's and KFC have nearly 3,000 outlets around the country and employ up to 200,000 people, according to media reports.

(China Daily March 29, 2007)

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