Kong Hotel and Catering Union Targets Scandal of Indecent Wages
in Fast Food Sector
On 27 Aug 2006,
members of the Catering and Hotels Industries Employees General Union
(an affiliate of the IUF and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade
Unions) protested outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet in
Hong Kong, condemning the chain giving scandalously indecent wages
and calling for legislation of minimum wage, after a union study found
KFC paid an hourly rate of HK$15.70.
Juo So In, spokesperson of the Catering and Hotels Industries
Employees General Union.
Low wages in the Fast-Food Chains
The April study found that KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Cafe de
Coral, Fairwood, Maxim's and Yoshinoya pay HK$15.70 to HK$19 an
hour. KFC workers earn about HK$3,000 a month. The salary is not
enough to cover living expenses. (The median income in Hong Kong
announced by the Government in August is HK$10,000)
Apart from giving low wages, some fast-food chains also use every
means to avoid their responsibilities. According to the Hong Kong
Labour Ordinance, an employee who is employed continuously by the
same employer for 4 weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked
in each week, is entitled to rest days, paid annual leave, sickness
allowance, severance payment and long service payment. But many
fast food chains require part-time employees to either stop working
or work one day only in the fourth week. This way the employer avoids
providing the legal requirements.
The Government delays the legislation of minimum wage
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang promised during the 2005
election that a proposal on a minimum wage would be worked out by
June 2006. It is already three months overdue.
Donald Tsang asked the Labour Advisory Board (LAB), a tripartite
consultative body comprising representatives of employers, employees
and government, to discuss the issue of minimum wage. But the issue
has been discussed in the board for 18 months without any sign of
a a consensus between the labour camp and the employer camp.
The union believes that the HKSAR Government should directly consult
the public about the minimum wage and submit a bill to the Legislative
The toothless proposal of the Labour Advisory Board
The LAB is planinng to have another round of discussions about the
minimum wage. But the employer-members of the board are only willing
to comply with minimum wage requirement in the cleaning and security
sectors through a charter, which means there will be no legal enforcement.
Yet, this will not solve the problems of low wages in Hong Kong.
Exploitation occurs across all sectors, including in catering and
fast food. Moreover, without an actual law mandating minimum wages
employers have already proved unwilling to abide by guildelines.
The Government previously issued guidelines requiring employers
with Government outsourcing contracts to pay cleaning and security
workers not lower than the median figures of those in the private
market, yet no employer follows this.
The demands from the union
The Catering and Hotels Industries Employees General Union will
meeting with fast-food chains workers from different districts and
invitations will be sent to the management of fast-food chains for
negotiating reasonable wages.
The union has demanded legislation of the minimum wage, as it is
the only way to secure reasonable wages and a decent life for the
lowest paid workers in the catering industry.
The union has joined the “People's Alliance for Minimum Wage”.
It was formed by 24 union groups from different sectors. The coalition
will have a series of actions which are aimed at pressing Chief
Executive Donald Tsang to address the issue of minimum wage in his
next policy address in October.
The comparison of the employees’ salaries in the seven fast
food shop chains:
per hour (HK$)
hours per day
number of employees
Profit in 2005 (HK$)
(for the past 1/2 year in Hong Kong)
Group is the parent company which holds 50% of Maxim’s shares,
1.848 billion (globally)
Pacific is the parent group, 0.53 billion (globally)
* The calculation is based on working for 26 days in each month
** If each outlet has an average of 20 employees, then the Pizza Hut
outlets have the largest scale of employees which are 30 people in each
# Sources from the companies’ annual report. For KFC and McDonald's,
the sources are from news materials.
The IUF, The HKCTU & Hong Kong