Fast food chains, though characterized by cheap meals that offer value for the money, are also oftentimes synonymous to low wages. To spotlight this problem, demonstrators from Tokyo have joined a global protest calling for fast food companies to increase their employees’ wages. The group is looking at giving out flyers in the Shibuya Ward beginning May 15 to make more people aware of their cause.
The call for increased wages was started by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from the United States. From there, it has now reached 35 countries, including Japan. The SEIU believes that many fast food employees suffer from poverty because of the low wages offered to them. To emphasize their point, the SEIU held simultaneous strikes in 100 cities in the United States last year. The strike was aimed at urging the companies to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, equivalent to ¥1,500 in Japan.
In Tokyo, the group protesting the low salaries of fast food employees is called “Fast Food Sekai Doji Action – Tokyo Jikkoinkai” (fast food world simultaneous action – Tokyo organizing committee). Many members of the group are current labor unionrepresentatives and other known proponents of the labor industry including author Karin Amamiya. The move to increase salaries of fast food workers has reached a global scale because many of the fast food chains have branches in other countries. Amamiya noted, “It is difficult to get a wage increase from multinational corporations by only asking from one country.”
The group will begin distributing the flyers at 1 p.m. on May 15 in front of the JR Shibuya station. The scheduled strike is planned across five continents in countries including Japan, Morocco, India, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and New Zealand.