FAST food workers are demanding respect for their rights that are being withheld from them by fast food chains whose overarching goal is to further amass superprofits.
This is done by shortchanging the workers through low wages along with “charity” or unpaid turnover work, measly benefits, contractual jobs or those with no security of tenure coupled with “zero hour” contracts and union busting, according to the newly organized Respect Fast Food Workers Alliance (RESPECT!).
RESPECT! reiterated the fast food workers’ demands for dignified work and living wages as well as freedom to unionize without harassment and intimidation during a picket-protest held today at the McDonald’s restaurant near MRT Quezon Ave. station.
Youth members of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL-Youth-SENTRO) supported RESPECT in staging the picket, which was highlighted by the rendition of the classic song “Respect” and the giving of roses to McDonald’s crew with a note saying “You deserve RESPECT!”
McDonald’s was again chosen as the protest venue for it is the world’s top fast food chain and epitomizes the ugly side of the global fast food industry: the rampant use of cheap and contractual labor and the unabated anti-worker and anti-union practices.
Contractualization in McDonald’s is assured by its heavily use of franchises – more than 80 percent of its restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by franchisees; thus, 1.5 million of its 1.9 million global workforce work for franchises, which enables McDonald’s to perpetuate contractual labor and accumulate huge profits.
Likewise, as if receiving a cheap wage is not enough, workers further fatten the McDonald’s already bulging pockets by serving for free for a certain period of time each day, which is called “charity work” or “turnover work” – in the Philippines, it ranges from no less than 30 minutes to as much as 2 hours, APL-Youth revealed.
Zero hour contracts, meanwhile, are those with no specified work hours and which do not guarantee jobs or income, but which are now becoming widespread in the rapidly expanding fast food industry, the global union IUF said.
McDonald’s anti-worker and anti-union practices have also been widely imitated and intensified by both global and local brands in the fast food industry, including its American competitors Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, among others, as well as homegrown fast food restaurants led by Jollibee.
The country’s top fast food chain, Jollibee is also notorious for its low pays and routine use of “endo” – acronym for “end-of-contract” workers or those with short-term and unprotected work contracts, which are also called “5-5-5” scheme where workers are endlessly hired and fired every five months to prevent them from having permanent or regular employment status.
Young workers are particularly vulnerable under these exploitative contracts since they comprise the bulk of the fast food workforce throughout the world, APL-Youth said.
The picket was held simultaneous with similar protest actions in many countries dubbed “Global Day of Action for Fast Food Workers” to underscore the struggles of the increasingly exploited and suppressed fast food workers.
One of the demands in this international action is for McDonald’s Korea to reinstate
Gahyun Lee, who was dismissed from her job in a McDonald’s outlet in Yeokgok, Gyeonggi province a few days after joining a protest action by US fast food workers in Los Angeles last September.
RESPECT! is a member of the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) and the Geneva-based IUF or the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations.