SHANGHAI -- US fast-food giants McDonald's and KFC said Thursday they are
working with Chinese authorities to resolve allegations that the companies
underpay their part-time workers, as a labor probe expands to other cities.
Labor bureaus in southern China's Guangdong province began investigating
after the state-controlled newspaper New Express Daily reported that McDonald's,
KFC and Pizza Hut were paying part-time workers less than the local minimum wage
of about US$1 an hour.
The companies said they were seeking clarification of labor laws, while
China's government-affiliated trade union demanded redress, noting that the
probe had expanded to other provinces and cities, including Shanghai.
The ACFTU, the national umbrella group for government-approved unions, is in
the midst of a campaign to boost the group's presence in foreign companies,
which employ some 25 million people in China but until recently resisted
allowing labor organizing.
McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc., which operates KFC and Pizza Hut, said they
were in compliance with local laws, but were seeking clarification regarding
recent changes in regulations.
"No one cares more about our workers than we do," McDonald's China said in a
statement seen Thursday. "The fact is, government officials make decisions on
local labor laws. That's why we continue to work with local officials to get
further clarity on their recently amended labor laws," it said.
"McDonald's China always adheres strictly to the relevant national and local
regulations, and we are consulting with the proper authorities to get the
facts," it said, noting that the results of the investigation had not yet been
A spokeswoman for Yum in China said the company was also seeking
clarification but did not have any new statements.
Minimum wages vary from region to region in China. The minimum wage for
Guangdong province is 7.5 yuan (US$0.97; euro0.73) per hour.
The New Express Daily report said McDonald's
was paying part-timers, many of whom are college students, only 4 yuan per
hour. It said part-timers at KFC earned as 4.7 yuan and Pizza Hut
The report also accused the restaurants of demanding part-time employees work
the hours of full-time staff but failing to pay them any full-time staff