Atlantic Cities
Postcard

Life on Minimum Wage Around the World

Last week, fast food workers around the United States went on strike in 60 different cities, asking for the right to unionize without retaliation and for a "living wage" of $15 an hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Around the world, many workers struggle with the same challenges, facing menial wages, odd hours, long shifts, and grueling commutes. Recently, Reuters photographers profiled service workers around the world, from a cleaner in Shanghai to a maid in La Paz to an auto parts employee in New York. Below, their images and their story:

 SHANGHAI, CHINA

Dai Yusheng, 58, who works as an employee sweeping the streets walks home after finishing his day of work in Hongkou district of Shanghai May 31, 2013. Dai works as a cleaning personnel for a company that is contracted by Shanghai Municipal government. He makes 14RMB per hour ($2.28). He usually works from 4am in the morning to 1pm 6 days a week. Dai and his wife rent a 3x4 meter room at a slum near his work area. Picture taken May 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria) 

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Hungarian public worker Gabriella Bundi (in purple), 44, crosses the street with her colleagues in Debrecen, 240 km (149 miles) east of Budapest, May 29, 2013. Gabriella, who has been unemployed for three years, takes temporary menial work mandated by the government in exchange for unemployment benefits. He husband works odd jobs. From this and meagre social benefits, she and her husband bring home about 250,000 forints, or $1,200 per month. The couple have five children, a son-in-law and a grandchild living in their home. Picture taken May 29, 2013. (REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh) 

ATHENS, GREECE

Dimitrios Zaroulas, 24, sits in his room at his parents flat in Athens May 29, 2013. Zaroulas studied journalism, but works as a waiter in a fish tavern in an Athens suburb where he earns 4 euros per hour. He briefly worked as a journalist on websites and at a local paper in the Palaio Faliro municipality. He lives in a 90 square-meter, two-bedroom flat with his parents and his 31-year-old sister, who shares a bedroom with him. Zaroulas commutes from home to work and back by tram. After finishing high school he served in the Greek army for nine months, which is mandatory for male Greeks. Picture taken May 29, 2013. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis) 

PARIS, FRANCE

Susanna Dimitri poses for a visual artist in Vaux-sur-Seine, 40 km (24 miles) northeast of Paris, May 24, 2013. Dimitri, 29, works in Paris as a teacher, model and part-time performing artist (Intermittent du spectacle) in France. Picture taken May 24, 2013. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Jorge, 60, works at "La antigua Roma" pulqueria in downtown Mexico City July 3, 2013. Jorge, who suffers from advanced deafness, has worked as a barman at a pulqueria for eleven hours a day for over 30 years and earns eight dollars per day. Jorge's salary does not allow him to rent a house and he lives with the family of his wife on the outskirts of the city from where he travels for two hours to get to work. Pulque is a traditional alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant. Picture taken July 3, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido) 

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA

Rufina Condori, 34, who works as a maid, walks in La Paz July 15, 2013. Condori works two jobs, which in total means she receives the monthly minimum wage equivalent to approximately $170. Picture taken July 15, 2013. (REUTERS/David Mercado)

NEW YORK CITY, USA

Javier Alava, 27, arrives at his work in New York, May 30, 2013. Alava works for an auto store and makes just above the national minimum wage, not exceeding $8 an hour. Alava commutes daily from Brooklyn by subway to Long Island which takes him about an hour daily. Picture taken May 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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