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Labour relations

Fast-food restaurant workers are staging a 24-hour strike in protest against low wages.

Walkouts were reported in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, and also Detroit, Michigan; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Organizers hoped workers in as many as 100 cities will participate in what is the latest in a series of such actions.

Unions want a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage. The current one, set in 2009, is $7.25 per hour.

President Barack Obama, who has backed a Senate measure to increase the minimum to $10.10, specifically mentioned fast-food workers “who work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty”, in an economic policy speech on Wednesday.

Barack Obama’s Democratic allies, who control the upper chamber of Congress, have said a vote on the matter could be held this month.

But even if it passes the Senate, it is not clear if it would be approved by the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Nearly 100 protestors gathered around a Wendy’s restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, at midday, carrying signs saying “stick together for $15/hr”.

Fast-food restaurant workers are staging a 24-hour strike in protest against low wages

Fast-food restaurant workers are staging a 24-hour strike in protest against low wages

In Detroit, about 50 demonstrators turned out for an early morning rally in front of a McDonald’s, including a handful of employees who walked off the job. However, the restaurant stayed open.

Another 40 demonstrators rallied at a Burger King in Atlanta.

The American fast-food industry has come under increasing scrutiny because part-time jobs, including retail and food positions, have made up most of the job growth since the recession.

It is not yet clear how many fast-food restaurants will be affected by Thursday’s industrial action.

The workers’ last nationwide strike, in August, was patchy, with some restaurants appearing to function normally while others were unable to do business.

The National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, called the strikes a “campaign engineered by national labor groups”, claiming the vast majority of participants were in fact union protestors.

The association said firms already face “great uncertainty”.

“Calls to double the minimum wage only intensify the challenges faced by job creators.”

This week, a measure in the tiny airport town of SeaTac, Washington state, to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour passed by 77 votes.

As a result, some 6,300 workers at SeaTac’s airport, which primarily serves the region’s largest city, Seattle, will be paid the highest minimum wage in the nation.

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