Part time fast food restaurant workers occupied a McDonald’s in Shinchon near Yonsei University on Feb. 7 to protest what they described as unfair working conditions, low wages and late pay.
The workers marched from the front gate of Sogang University, located down the street, to the McDonald’s restaurant in the center of the Shinchon commercial district. Some of the protestors shouted slogans, such as “Part-timers deserve better than minimum wage!” and “Part-timers are people, too!”
Protestors inside the restaurant reportedly said that McDonald’s fills every restaurant position, even administrative ones, with temporary workers to cut costs.
McDonald’s workers in Korea earn a minimum hourly wage of 5,580 won ($5.1). The part-time workers cooking, cleaning, preparing and ringing up orders at McDonald’s earn 334,800 won a month.
The part-timers are demanding a wage increase to 10,000 won per hour. That would mean McDonald’s part-time workers would earn 600,000 won a month.
The company also arbitrarily adjusts schedules, sometimes on a day-to-day basis, in order to keep workers’ 60-hours-a-month part-time status and frequently fail to deliver paychecks on time, protesters said.
The protesting part-timers said this labor-management conflict at McDonald’s Korea operation started last year in November when Lee Ga-hyun, a 21-year-old temp worker, was fired for reporting arbitrary adjustments of her work schedule to the labor union, Part Time Workers Union (PTWU).
PTWU said that 65 percent of McDonald’s workers experience arbitrary schedules adjustments and 22 percent delays of their paychecks.
“If any McDonald’s manager behaves in an abusive manner, we are asking workers to report it to us,” said PTWU Secretary-General Lee Hae-jung. “We are putting McDonald’s on notice that they should get their act together and do something about improving the working conditions for part-timers”
One current McDonald’s worker who declined to give his name argued that temporary workers are worth at least as much as 10,000 won an hour.
“McDonald’s works us like machines but pays us nothing but minimum wage. This has got to change,” he said.
McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in South Korea in 1988, on the eve of the Summer Olympics in Seoul.