Thursday, April 19, 2007

China's part-time McWorkers exploited

China's part-time McWorkers exploited By Olivia Chung HONG KONG

Legal loopholes, lax supervision and local corruption are allowing US fast-food giants to underpay part-timer workers in China. The current labor law, effective since 1995, has been criticized by human rights and union activists for being more protective of employers than of workers. Experts are urging the Chinese government to draft a new labor law so that the rights of both full-time and part-time employees are equally protected. The following is an example of how a part-time working student is underpaid and his rights are not fully protected.

Struggling to earn enough to pay his tuition fees, Tong (not his real name) started working a part-time job at McDonald's in Guangzhou in January 2006 and was impressed by the US fast-food restaurant's nice atmosphere and neat environment. "At first, I didn't feel I was underpaid because the salary the restaurant offered was similar to those offered by domestic restaurants," said Tong, a third-year undergraduate, "but after a long day of work, I felt it was a bit unfair. It's a hard-knock life." According to the contract he signed with McDonald's, Tong's basic salary plus subsidy is 5.3 yuan (68.7 US cents) per hour.

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