My reflection about fast-food work below is based on my own perception after going to some franchises for some times, my group’s conversation with a waitress named Le Thi Quynh who works at a KFC restaurant as well as sharing’s of my friends who are living in the US. We have chance to observe waiters/waitress only so most comparisons referring to “work” are limited to these people.
From the viewpoint of workers
In Vietnam, all most all workers are students who want to have part-time job so that they can be somehow independent from family. (Others, such as a friend of mine, have some additional reasons, for instance: to lose weight). Similarly, many workers in US work part-time there. Nevertheless, they are from all ages.
In Vietnam, most workers will say it’s unfair in comparison with the input [time and effort] and output [salary]. Quynh earns 8000 VND/hour. I don’t know it’s true or not because it’s even under the minimum wage stipulated by the Law of Labor (which is 20000 VND/hour). My friends who work in another KFC franchise in Hanoi earn 10000 VND/hour for cleaning floor, glass window etc… She said “they exploit laborer”. It’s lower than other part-time work for students such as teaching assistant (20000 VND/hour), tutoring (50000/hour) etc…
In US, my friend says it’s quite low, ranging from $6 to $7.25/hour. But it still not much varies from other part-time jobs such as washing dishes, doing nail etc… which can save them $10.
As can be seen, in Vietnam, the workers do not like the job very much. However, they try to make it more fun and take advantage of it. For example, they make use of space time with air conditioner to learn. They invite their friends to come there and learn in group. I saw this happening twice when I come to a Lotteria on Pham Ngoc Thach streets and KFC on Xuan Thuy Street. It’s not likely to happen in the US.
From the viewpoint of customers
Some friends tell me that in US, fast-food is among the cheapest food. So workers are not very highly respected. However, it’s different in Vietnam. People do not care anything about social status of these workers. Quynh said that “People look at me like a student doing her part-time job”. To some certain extents, these workers are even considered “hard working & commending” because they go out of parents ‘arm [collectivism] and earn their living.
Fast-food prices in franchise are quite high. Only people from high income family can afford it. Thus, they are more demanding. Commonly, they expect and actually they are served rather than self-serving like they do in US. Therefore, there are many fast-food workers in a Vietnamese franchise while only a few in a US one. That’s why at peak time, workers in a Vietnamese franchise have to move a lot, even from floor to floor, causing them to be exhausted.