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This essay discusses the comparison and contrast, similarities and differences between the work and employment relations in the fast food industry in Singapore with work and employment relations in the fast food industries in Germany and the United States. This paper consists of three basic parts which divides the topic question into different parts viz. Introduction of the topic, body discussing comparison and contrast between work and employment relations in the fast food industry in Singapore with work and employment relations in the fast food industries in Germany and the United States and eventually conclusion which summarizes all similarities and differences of work and employment relations in the fast food industry in Singapore with work and employment relations in the fast food industries in Germany and the United States. To find the contrast and comparison, similarities and differences an internal and external analysis of dynamics of the implementation and evolution of McDonald's employee relations will be done.
The major players in the global fast-food industry are transnational company. McDonalds is world's largest fast food chain and best known brand in the world. It has remarkably grown and expanded the brand around the globe. By 2010, McDonald's will have 50,000 restaurants around the globe. McDonald's employs more than two million people in 118 different countries. Only in USA there are 46 restaurants of MacDonald's for every million residents. MacDonald's per capita annual sales are $54 in USA. Besides MacDonald's there are other fast food brands like Pizza Hut, Burger King and KFC. Over the 30 years the rapid change and expansion in the fast food industry has also affected the development of the service sector. McDonald's accounts for 70 % employment in the countries like USA, UK and Canada.
McDonald's is the largest private corporation in Brazil. Since fast food industry has emerged as the largest employer in the world, the development and growth of services sector in fast food has become important in terms of working environment, conditions, worker's right and pay scale. Fast food industry is in the front line of all industry looking for more flexibility in working conditions and been engaged in activities for low rates pay for the teen agers or young employees. Fast food industry has also a great role in the increasing the development of part time and low paid jobs. Fast food industry has to bear a great pressure due to new entrants into the market and other from suppliers and all these development negatively affect the working condition and working environment.
Employment relationship in this paper means relationship between employer and the employee. Relationship between employer and employee is of diverse degrees and it not only relies on the economic, political and social relationships between the employer and the employee, besides that there is the possibility for collective or group relationships, where collective relationships structure the basis of trade unions or other types of worker representation.
1.1 Fast Food
The fast-food industry has become an important industry which is continuously expanding. Before opening the discussion of the topic it is significant to determine the meaning of Fast-food. Term Fast-food is a broad yet difficult to define. In broader term it means 'quick service'. The term fast food was first recognized in a Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1951.
1.2 Fast-Food Industry
Fast-food industry refers to Quick Service Restaurant. Thus Fast-food industry is used for quick serving and preparation. Fast food industry is different from the outlets and stores in term of variety and offering a wide range of products such as burger, baked potatoes, fish and pizzas and French bakery. As a result of more and more competition now companies are offering standardize menu and limited products for quick serving in different location (Royle & Towers, 2002).
1.3 Employment Relations in Singapore's Fast-food industry
In Singapore McDonald's is the leading brand in the market and has developed modern fast-food industry. McDonald's services, menu, restaurant services are likely to be standardized all over the world and it sustains the control over thousands of franchises and owned restaurants. McDonald's is able to do so by monitoring of practice and process to make sure that these franchise and restaurants are following the company standardization policy. Though there are different and diverse global practices of work due to different social, economic and political configurations in every society and country where there might be unusual and unique laws and culture practices.
For studying the employment relationship in fast food industry with especial reference to McDonald's is interesting because Singapore is one of the conventional developmental states of Asia. McDonald's is a multinational corporation and Multinational Corporation utilizes practice of uniformity to maintain the standard across the world. In order to understand the employment relationship in Fast-food industry in Singapore it is important to understand that organizational structure of McDonald's Corporation's and its application of technologies are likely to affects its employment terms and policy. In Singapore McDonald's is comprised of three main groups: the headquarter team, restaurant managers and crew members. Headquarter is team of senior executives and managers dealing with public relation, finance, human resources, personnel and training. Restaurant managers are in charge of taking care of restaurant's ins and outs including supervising tasks, ,managing restaurants. Crew is obliged to do preparation and serving of the food including clearing the restaurant. All important work is performed with the help of technology; therefore McDonald's does not hire highly qualified persons for crew staff. For managers there is career path to get promoted but for crew there is no as such career at McDonald's. Many claim that crews get promoted to up to management level though the opportunities for career path for crew is limited. At McDonald's crew is the lowest paid employee with lowest rank and have insignificant character because of the nature of their tasks. McDonald's employee the crew as part-timers since their work is so unimportant yet necessary for the organization. McDonald's had its own espoused philosophy for its employment policy according to which issues of efficiency and equity has to be dealt with without the need for unions. Thus it can be understood that in Singapore fast food industry like McDonald's doesn't think over the importance of labor union. McDonald does elaborate different terms and conditions for its employee's at all three levels. Terms and conditions for the headquarters team are kept confidential. Managers are paid monthly salary and usually appointed for 40-hour week. Full-time crew is salaried on the base of hours and per day maximum hour of working is 8 hours. In-house medical benefits are provided for all employees in Singapore and crew members also allowed to have annual pay bonuses but determines by the restaurant's mangers. Restaurant managers annual bonus is determined by headquarter team and issued pro-rata if the manager has worked less than 12 months.
1.4 Employment Relations in the United States' Fast-food industry
In USA McDonald's is the largest fast food industry. In US there are 2.5 million workers in fast food industry and is the largest group of low paid employees. McDonald's and other fast food chain in US are employed by franchisees rather than employing directly. In US there is freedom to employers to have the company's terms and conditions. The legal standard leading employment relations in most conditions is 'employment-at-will', according to which workers possess no right to continuing employment and employers do have any legal obligation of fairness. In USA fast food industry exists without any unions and do not directly employ workers. Most of the workers and 72% at McDonald's serve as part-timers. Technology has an important role in the standardization of work of the fast food workers and reducing the work and caution required of workers. More than the years, the fast-food companies have considered grills and fry vats that employ buzzers to inform crew when to progress with the next step in their schedule; they have supplied many food products in type that require simply be heated, rehydrated, or gathered; have mechanized cash registers to make counter work simple and easy doing. Computerized system has also improved the standard of other managerial tasks such as scheduling shifts, conducting payroll, ordering, and observing sales, record and waste. The intense improvement in the standard of work is the key to many characteristics of the fast-food industry in the US. It gives good reason for low wages and benefits. Usually young and inexperienced people capable to work the simplified jobs are specifically able to accept these low rewards.
In the United States McDonald's operates more than 12,400 restaurants and not even one has any union as McDonald's strictly prohibit any kind of union by its employees. There is a handbook issued that managers have right to fire the personnel any moment for any reason and it was to specifying as 'at will'. According to an overview of employment in US the power is imbalance at workplace and that employers have more favors than any another country. The fast-food industry in USA mainly depends on the low-paid, part-time workers whose works have been inflexibly standardized. Thus this system has given more labor turnover to this industry and offers frightening barriers to unionization specifically in combination with decentralization and determined employer opposition in industry.
1.5 Employment Relation in Germany Fast-food industry
In Germany fast food industry is the largest food service in terms of turnover. In 2000, there were 1000 restaurants along with 50,000 employees. In Germany labor unions are of high acceptance yet recent results from McDonald's in Germany propose that workers can only ask questions about their rights to breaks, holidays and holiday pay, other policy terms and conditions of employment. At McDonald's restaurant in Germany has 50 to 100 employees and there can be works council in every McDonald's restaurant. Recent study has suggested that when few employees were interviewed as asked about the work council it was revealed that most of the workers are unaware of the existence of work council. In Germany McDonald's has used a legal structure according to which the company splits up into about 65 % franchises, 15 % company stores and 20 % in seven holding companies called Anver companies. In Germany McDonald's is a limited lawfully responsible company. It is a huge collection of small units with largely part-time working and comparatively high labor turnover. The result is that the employees of 50,000 are split up into smaller groups of separate employees. As a result of this organization has difficulty as it reduces the solidarity amongst the workers.
It is doubtless that the fast-food industry is expanding significantly by all means like sales and employment. Fast-food industry has rather changed the perspective on employment by the low skilled, low paid and insecure job. It is creating the opposite perspective for employees to learning new skills, making a good living. Fast-food industry provides large employment opportunity though; it offers a job which has no security without any union through which employee's voice could be heard by the higher management. In Singapore, USA and Germany fast-food seems to target young and inexperienced workers to employ as crew and inexperienced and young staff members are unlikely to know anything about trade union.
In USA most fast-food corporation employs young and female workers and mostly with no experience and appointed as a part-timer. Same scenario was observed in Singapore while in Germany circumstances are little different in the way that mostly workers are foreigners. Fast-food industry has appeared to strictly not allowing the trade union or any other collective effort from workers for which inexperience and young personnel is important as they do not take any interest in union. Likewise Singapore in USA fast-food workers does not get any support from public or other workers. In contrast, the existence of fast-food industry without any union is really surprising in Singapore and same circumstances observed in US. On the other hand there is workers council which aims to represent the fast-food industry workers for their payment or other working conditions. Yet not all workers are aware of these workers councils.