US workers' protests highlight fast-food economics
NEW YORK (AP) - American fast-food workers often earn about US$7.25 (S$9.24) an hour to make the US$3 chicken sandwiches and 99-cent tacos that generate billions of dollars in profit each year for McDonald's, Taco Bell and other chains.
Thousands of the many millions of US fast-food workers and their supporters have been staging protests across the country in the past year to call attention to the struggles of living on or close to the federal minimum wage. The push raises the question of whether the economics of the fast-food industry allow room for a boost in pay for its workers.
The industry is built on a business model that keeps costs - including those for labour - low so companies can make money while satisfying America's love of cheap, fast food. And no group along the food chain, from the customers to the companies, wants to foot the bill for higher wages for workers.
Customers want a deal when they order burgers and fries. But those cheap meals squeeze franchise store owners who say they already survive on slim margins. And the corporations have to grow profits to keep shareholders happy.