News Column

Fast-food Workers Protest Poverty Wages

August 29, 2013
fast food

Thousands of fast food workers walked off the job in dozens of cities across the US Thursday to call for higher wages. It is the latest of a series of similar strikes that have taken place in the last year.

Chanting "we can't survive on 7.25" and "make our wages super size," workers called for fast food companies to provide a living wage of 15 dollars an hour, more than double the current federal minimum wage of 7.25 dollars per hour.

According to the worker advocacy group Fast Food Forward, the fast food industry grosses 200 billion dollars annually, while a fast food worker in New York City earns an average salary of 11,000 dollars per year, which is below the poverty level as defined by the federal government.

President Barack Obama has called for a minimum wage hike to 9 dollars per hour.

The protests come amid a shift in the wake of the financial crisis in terms of who hold jobs at fast food restaurant. Fewer teenagers and more adults with famililies are now in those positions.

"You're trying to go up and you're just going down," protester Shantel Walker, 31, told broadcaster CNBC. "All of us are in the same financial crunch. We're trying to take care of our families and our livelihood."

The protests encounter pushback from a group called Employment Policies Institute. It ran an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal Thursday depicting a robot at work in a fast food restaurant, implying that if labour costs become too high for fast food companies, they could turn to new technologies to automate the work.

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Source: Copyright Deutsche Presse-Agentur ??? Engl 2013

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