Fast food workers across the globe have been holding protests and walking out on their jobs in an attempt to force the industry to raise wages to at least $US15 an hour.
In response to the protests, McDonald’s, one of the largest fast food chains in the world, has warned that wage increases would force franchisees to raise menu prices.
But in Denmark, McDonald’s employees, along with all other fast food workers, make twice as much as they do in the US, and the Big Mac costs just 80 cents more, according to the The New York Times.
Fast food workers make a minimum of $US20 hourly in Denmark, while in the US, their average hourly wage is $US8.90, according to the Times report.
Many economists say a direct comparison between the US and Denmark is unfair because Denmark has a much higher cost of living.
But “In interviews, Danish employees of McDonald’s, Burger King and Starbucks said that even though Denmark had one of the world’s highest costs of living — about 30% higher than in the United States — their $US20 wage made life affordable,” the Times’ Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse write.
Thanks to unionization, workers in Denmark also get paid sick leave and overtime pay.
The Big Mac costs about $US4.80 in the US and $US5.60 in Denmark, according to the Times report.
There are also domestic fast food chains, such as In-N-Out Burger, that have managed to pay employees more than McDonald’s while still selling food at cheap prices, Finnegan points out. In-N-Out’s starting wages are $US11 an hour.
Fast food companies’ “traditional defence of miserable pay — that most of their employees are young, part time, just working for gas money, really — has grown threadbare,” William Finnegan wrote in the New Yorker last month.
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