Fast Food Industry in Singapore

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Work and Employment Relations in the Fast Food Industry

The fast food industry is expanding globally over the years despite of downturns in national economies. Due to the rapid growth and success of the service, issues such as workers’ right, pay levels and conditions of work are often questioned. While fast food industries has expanded globally and become multinational corporations (MNCs),to what extent they are able to impose common employment practices on diverse national systems of labor legislations?(Royle, Towers 2002) This essay shall discuss about the similarities and differences between work and employment relations in the fast food industries. The country that will be discussed is Singapore, Germany and the United States. The discussion shall first begin with information about the fast food industry after which, I shall explore the similarities and also the differences between the work and employment relations of the three countries. Last but not least, I will discuss about the reasons of the similarities and the differences that occur.

The fast food industries first originated from the United States. Fast food can include service with or without plates and be consumed inside or outside the business, has limited menus, limited service, and standardization .Meals are selected by customers from a short list of offerings followed by placing orders at a counter (Leidner,2002).Food is served in a very fast speed: on a tray for dining in, or packaged to take elsewhere. People who are in a hurry and want to have inexpensive meals are the targeted market for this industry. In fact, the industry emphasizes on convenience. The limited offerings and the standardization has permit the use of low skilled and easily replaceable labour. Lobbying the government to introduce lower rates of pay for young workers and demanding for more ‘flexibility’ is in the vanguard of fast-food companies.(Royle,2000; Vidal,1997).It is often said that fast-food industries has contributed the growth of part-time, insecure and low paid employment and most of all stopping the access of trade unions to their industry. I will be using MNCs such as MacDonald’s in this essay because McDonald’s is the market leader in fast-food industry. According to Pereira (2002) ,the suppression of trade union opposition would be rationalized by corporatist government for the sake of industrial peace back then, being afraid that politicized trade unions will destabilize political regimes or make economically damaging wage demands. However, in order to attract multinational corporations to locate in Singapore, the government introduced the Employment Act and amendments were made to the Industrial Relations Act. The Industrial Relations Act gave more ‘power’ to the employer by excluding issues such as promotion, transfer, retirement, retrenchment, dismissal and work assignment, leaving them to be negotiated between employers and employees.(Pereira,2002) . The new National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) were also formed in 1961,one of its role is to review the guidelines for wage changes in the country. However, the most important state measure introduced was giving the workers right to choose whether they want to join a union or not, causing important ramifications for McDonald’s Restaurants’ own employee relations. While in Germany , German union generally appear to have high acceptance amongst the German workforce and German employers. McDonald’s has refused to cooperate in the beginning. Between 1979 and 1990, restaurant managers were mainly secondary school leavers and the crews usually had low levels of educational qualifications while the headquarters teams took in experienced and highly qualified person.

Unlike Germany, Singapore’s crews are made up of part-timers, youth who were still in full-time education. Germany which have very low labour turnover because large proportion of fast food workforces are made up of ethnics minorities and economic...
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