The scandal involving US fast-food giants McDonald's and KFC for alleged
underpaying part-time employees should serve as a reminder of the need to
strengthen enforcement of China's labor regulations.
labor bureau in South China's Guangdong Province has reportedly begun its probe
into the case, in which McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc, which operates KFC and
Pizza Hut, are accused of paying part-timers less than the Guangzhou minimum
wage of 7.5 yuan ($0.97) per hour.
The cases make clear the necessity of increasing protection under our
existing labor laws.
For a long time, labor controversies concerning underpaid workers have
cropped up in both foreign and domestic enterprises. They include world-renowned
firms as well as obscure local companies. The number of victims is believed to
According to a survey by the Guangdong labor bureau and a local university
last year, the issue of underpaid farmers-turned-city-workers has become a
The 600 enterprises surveyed included foreign, Macao- and Hong Kong-financed
and domestic enterprises.
In Beijing, a survey of housekeepers last year by non-governmental
organizations found about half of those surveyed were paid less than the local
In Shanghai, local regulators uncovered 907 cases involving 28,000 underpaid
workers in the January-August period of 2006.
These cases occurred in big cities, where implementation of labor laws is
much stricter than elsewhere. It would be no surprise if labor laws were even
more commonly disregarded outside major cities.
McDonald's and KFC were singled out, admittedly, not only because they
allegedly violated labor laws but because they are major fast-food brands. They
are high-profile targets for those interested in protecting labor rights.
The equally important question is, how many other companies are violating
This is the larger issue raised as labor officials investigate the McDonald's
and KFC scandals.
(China Daily 04/09/2007 page4)