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Labor Watch: McDonald's, Samsung, Mattel Under Fire for Employee Standards

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Meanwhile Singapore is facing a historic strike of government transit employees, and Spain's Iberia airlines workers are planning to sit out the week before Christmas.

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This column highlights the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary on labor and union news

The Atlantic
Link: McJobs Should Pay, Too: Inside Fast-Food Workers' Historic Protest For Living Wages
"The term 'McJob' has come to epitomize all that's wrong with the low-wage service industry jobs that are growing part of the US economy.

"'It beats flipping burgers,' the cliché goes, because no matter what your job might be, it's assumed to be better than working in a fast-food restaurant.

"Today in New York City, though, hundreds of workers at dozens of fast-food chain stores are walking out on strike, demanding better of those jobs. At McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Burger King (NYSE:BKC), Wendy's (NASDAQ:WEN), KFC (NYSE:YUM), Taco Bell, and Domino's Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) locations, workers have been organizing, and today they launch their campaign. They want a raise, to $15-an-hour from their current near-minimum wage pay, and recognition for their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee."

Businessweek
Link: Labor Group: Mattel Factories Violate Standards
"A labor rights watchdog organization said Thursday that a factory owned by Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) in China, along with three factories used by Mattel suppliers, violate Chinese labor standards.

"China Labor Watch, based in New York, said its own investigation shows that the three factories, which employ about 10,000 people, violate labor standards in a variety of areas including illegal overtime pay, excessive overtime, forced labor and a lack of requirements to wear safety equipment."

CNET
Link: Samsung Accused of Labor Violations by Watchdog Group
"Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) is up against a slew of labor abuse accusations in China, according to a report from China Labor Watch.

"An investigation conducted by the watchdog group in October and November uncovered worker violations at several factories, those owned directly by Samsung as well as by its suppliers.

"The report is in contrast to the one that Samsung itself released this week. Samsung's own internal audit of suppliers found no child labor violations, a key concern among watchdog groups and Samsung itself. However, Samsung's own audit did discover other issues at supplier factories in China, including overtime hours beyond the legal limit, management at suppliers holding copies of labor contracts, and fines levied against workers for being late or absent."

The Economist
Link: One Strike and You're Out
"So rare is industrial action in Singapore that the government and press seem to be hazy about the vocabulary. When 171 bus drivers employed by SMRT, a government-owned firm, refused to go to work on November 26th and staged a sit-in at their dormitory, the Straits Times, a pro-government daily, termed it an 'action,' 'protest,' 'episode,' and 'wage dispute.' Only later was the 's' word dragged out of the dictionary. After dozens of drivers stayed away from work for a second day, the front-page headline on November 28 was: 'Govt moves against illegal strike.'

"'Mr Brown,' a local blogger, noticing the reluctance to call a stoppage a strike, asked his Twitter followers for suggestions for other options. Among the ideas were 'unhappy gathering,' 'disgruntled sit-in' and, in a dig at the government's much-touted effort to reconnect with its people, 'the national bus drivers' conversation.'"

Seattle Times
Link: Spain's Iberia Workers to Strike Before Christmas
"Labor unions representing most workers in Spain's Iberia airline say they will stage six days of strikes right before the Christmas holiday period to protest the company's plans to lay off 4,500 workers.

"The stoppages by Iberia's ground staff and cabin crews will be held Dec. 14 and Dec. 17-21.

"Francisco Rodriguez, of the General Workers Union, Spain's largest, said Thursday that the strikes were to protest 'the unnecessary layoffs of workers.'"

Twitter: @Minyanville

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