updated 8/7/2007 8:23:35 AM ET 2007-08-07T12:23:35

McDonald’s is boosting pay to most of its 50,000 staff in China by an average of 30 percent, the company confirmed Tuesday.

About 95 percent of the company’s employees in China will receive raises of between 12 and 56 percent, the official China Daily said, citing McDonald’s China Chief Executive Jeffrey Schwartz.

“We have raised salaries in China many times, but this is the first time there is such a large increase covering so many people,” Schwartz was quoted as saying.

Schwartz could not be reached for comment, but a McDonald’s spokeswoman confirmed the pay raise reports.

McDonald’s and fellow fast-food giant KFC came under pressure last month following a report alleging that their part-time workers in Guangdong were being paid up to 40 percent less than the legal minimum wage of about $1 an hour.

Both defended their personnel policies, saying they were in compliance with the law.

Schwartz was quoted as saying the brief burst of negative publicity prompted the company to move ahead on the raise.

“We have been looking at a wage increase for a year,” he said.

“We don’t want to be thought of in that way. We want to be the best employer in China,” Schwartz said.

McDonald’s, based in Oak Brook, Ill., opened its first restaurant in China in 1990 and has grown to 780 outlets in 120 cities. The company plans to open another 100 stores in China each year.

The company faces strong competition from Yum Brands Inc., the industry leader in China with more than 2,000 KFC restaurants and 300 Pizza Huts.

Though pay varies in different parts of the country, McDonald’s employees are paid a minimum hourly wage of 73 cents (5.80 yuan) in China’s business center of Shanghai, according to Chinese media.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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