McDelivery motorcycle riders took to McDonald's Korean headquarters in Jongno, Seoul, Monday, to protest the company's dress code that binds delivery staff to wearing jeans even in sweltering heat.
Helming the movement has been Park Jeong-hoon, 32, who has been protesting against McDonald's since late July.
"In this weather, walking up and down countless steps in jeans is stifling," Park said. Park works 7 1/2 hours a day and delivers to 25 homes in that time. With each delivery, he earns an additional 400 won (S$0.50) reward to his hourly pay. Park delivered for McDonald's in Seoul for nearly two years now.
Park's request is for McDonald's Korea to strike its jeans policy, or provide lighter summer pants for the uniforms. His other request is to be paid an extra 100 won per delivery on a day marked with hot weather warnings.
According to Korea's national statistics institute, food delivery apps surpassed 1 trillion won (S$1.2 million) in transaction volume in the second quarter this year, due to temperatures surging in excess of 38 degrees Celsius prompting more people to order delivery instead of visiting restaurants. The rise in the demand for delivery may be good news for the corporation, but not so much for the delivery staff in the daily grind under the blazing sun.
Protesters in front of McDonald's Korea headquarters held up a banner reading, "Are you so sorry for 100 won heat wave extra pay?" Another sign read, "The Coke is delivered cold but the delivery man melts on the way."
Park reached out to McDonald's Korea, but said he was stopped at the gates and was asked to submit his complaint via mail. He has since been visiting McDonald's restaurants around the capital city on his private time, protesting and seeking supporters.
McDonald's currently cuts short the range of its delivery area on days of torrential rains or heavy snowfall. Park argued the same rule should apply when heat wave or fine dust warnings are issued. Heat wave warnings are typically issued when the temperature rises above 35 C for two or more consecutive days.
Park also argued that delivery motorcyclists should be allowed to wear helmets that only cover half the face, not the entire head, in the suffocating heat.
Park plans to continue his solo protests until McDonald's issues a new dress code and guidelines for hot days. He also plans to create a riders' union with other fast-food delivery riders from Lotteria, Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut and others.
A McDonald's Korea spokesperson said the company's priority is on the safety of its drivers. For the dress code, the company supplies long-sleeved shirts and jeans to protect the drivers from sunburns and injuries such as scratches while on duty.
The spokesperson added that McDonald's is not considering raising its delivery fee on hot days at the moment.