Fast Food Industry

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Introduction

The fast-food industry has been developing rapidly and has successfully penetrated majority of the markets globally, at the same time bringing about several significant changes in practices, work and employment relations. Fast-food restaurants are distinguished and characterized by their inexpensive food products prepared in a standardized method that is dispensed to their customers quickly and efficiently for takeaway or dine-in and are usually packaged without the provision of utensils. However, the rapid expansion and proliferation of the industry was not a smooth transition, instead, it has brought about several controversies and criticisms. Such growth and success has brought disadvantages to workers’ rights, wages and the conditions of work (Royle & Towers, 2002) as well as providing a greater insight on how work and employment relations should be better managed.

In addition, it also brought to light that not all protocols, standards and practices of the fast-food company fits the different markets globally perfectly, due to the different cultures, mindsets and preferences, which we will be exploring in depth in this essay - in particular, the fast-food industry in Singapore, Germany and United States. Even though major corporations were to set up fast-food restaurants in the listed countries, similarities and differences will arise and we will discuss this in the essay.

The Fast-Food Labour force

The fast-food industry has showed several trends in their employment practices in different countries with each workforce showing distinct characteristics. This is because the fast-food companies generally tend to aim the flawed and insignificant group of the labour market, with majority of the employees being inexperience, low-skilled, young and easily replaceable labour. In addition, due to the nature of this industry, the job scope is highly standardized and repetitive, thus it is seen to be a job that has low and unpromising future prospects. It has also played a big role in causing the proliferation of insecure, unstable, part-time and low wage employment. We will now look into the similarities and differences between Singapore and the 2 other countries’ fast food industry, using a good example by McDonalds’.

First of all, Singapore and United States’ labour force shows parallels in the type, nature and mindsets and displayed high labour turnover rates. The Singapore fast-food industry labour force is generally made up of a range of different age groups with differing qualifications. For instance in restaurant outlets, restaurant managers are usually secondary school leavers and the crew members usually hold low education qualifications. However employees working in the headquarters are experienced, skillful and highly qualified - often graduates or those who had previous managerial experience. The employees based in the headquarters are offered better employment benefits and prospects as findings showed that each executive has an individually negotiated employment contract (Pereira, 2002), and they tend to deal with more challenging and more enriching jobs. However, employees in the outlets see their job in McDonalds’ as a short-term temporary job with no promising future prospects and as large percentage of the part-time crew consists of students, they will leave the job upon graduation or if they found a better job with better prospects, permanent and with better benefits rather than continue working with McDonalds’. Even so, McDonald’s attempted to retain their youth employees – restaurant managers especially, by treating them like ‘professionals’, having more professional seminars but they eventually did not stay long. Due to Singapore’s changing demographics, low birth rates and the fact that more individuals are graduating higher educational qualifications- a degree, the labour pool that McDonalds’ can tap into has become relatively much smaller thus they have turned to employing...
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