Mcdonald’s accused of illegal labor, tax practices in brazil

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McDonald’s Corp, the world’s biggest fast-food chain, was accused of mistreating its employees and dodging taxes on Thursday throughout a Senate hearing in Brazil, where politicians, union leaders and workers from five continents voiced allegations.

McDonald’s has come under increasing scrutiny worldwide for allegations of labor abuses, health insurance and safety violations, plus tax evasion in Europe, and Brazilian Senator Pablo Paim called a hearing to permit both sides to create their cases.

McDonald’s deferred comment to its regional operator.

Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc, the world’s largest McDonald’s franchisee and its own main operator in Latin America, where it employs 95,000 people and had sales of $3.7 billion this past year, was invited to wait the hearing but chose never to, a company spokesman said.

"We are absolutely convinced that the business has complied with labor laws since it opened its first restaurant in Brazil 36 years back," Arcos Dorados said in a statement. It said the business was proud to be the most notable first-job employer for young Brazilians.

Union representatives told the hearing that McDonald’s franchisees in Brazil have denied workers’ purchase extra time worked, prohibited them to become listed on unions and employed teenagers within their kitchens without protective gear, causing some to suffer burns from frying grease and grills.

"Rather than feeding society with good jobs and paying its fair share of taxes, McDonald’s feeds on communities, forcing people into dead-end jobs and avoiding taxes," Scott Courtney of the U.S.-based Service Employees International Union said.

The 1.9 million-member SEIU, which includes backed the "Fight for $15" (hourly wage) campaign in the American junk food industry since a fresh York walkout in 2012, said the hearing was an opportunity to draw wider focus on McDonald’s labor policies.

"McDonald’s is a worldwide player, and people everywhere should know it really is an unfair player which should face global pressure to pay its taxes and decent wages," said Jutta Steinruck, an associate of the European Parliament.

She said McDonald’s has been investigated in Europe for allegedly evading payment of just one 1 billion euros in taxes.

Among Brazil’s largest labor federations, the UGT, filed a complaint last Friday, asking prosecutors to research allegations of tax evasion, unfair competition and violation of franchise laws by Arcos Dorados.

The business said it was not informed of the complaint and said it had been confident that it had been "rigorously" following Brazilian laws.

Previous legal complaints in Brazil have not affected the business and regulatory labor authorities have not taken action either.

Witnesses at the hearing called on Brazil’s Congress to open a study in to the labor practices of the junk food industry in Brazil, but that may require the signature of 80 lawmakers and concrete proof abuses, said Congressman Antonio Carlos Mendes Thame, who attended the hearing.

The decision for an inquiry was backed by 19-year-old Lucas da Cruz Marques, who worked for 1 . 5 years at a McDonald’s at a Sao Paulo metro station until he was fired last month after joining a union to press for better working conditions.

"I thought it had been a good career possibility to go and work for a multinational company," he said. Instead, he said he found a company that changed workers’ shifts around to cut their pay.

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