Cities across China roll out collective wage initiatives

At least six Chinese cities and provinces have, in the last few weeks, revealed plans to promote and develop collective wage negotiations in local enterprises this year.

The most significant initiative was probably in Shenzhen but cities in Hunan, Hebei, Zhejiang and Shandong have also announced or have already implemented collective wage negotiation policies and programs. In addition, in early March, the provincial government of Liaoning, released its Provisions on Collective Wage Consultations in Enterprises (企业工资集体协商规定) for public comment. See CLB’s submission to the Liaoning government (Chinese only) here.

On 18 March, the Changde municipal trade union in Hunan signed a wage agreement with ten enterprises in the city, and announced its intention to initiate collective wage negotiations in all of the city’s public and semi-public enterprises, and set up trade unions in 60 percent of its private enterprises.

In the north-eastern coastal city of Qinhuangdao, the local government pledged on 23 March to establish a wage negotiation structure that covered more than 85 percent of the city’s mainly private enterprises by the end of the year.

In early March, the Rizhao municipal government and trade union in Shandong published its Trial Measures for Collective Consultations on Employee Wages (日照市职工工资集体协商试行办法) and set a target of having 2,400 enterprises with collective wage agreements by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the health workers’ trade union in nearby Qingdao announced plans to sign collective wage agreements that would cover the all the city’s 5,000 contract or hospital supply workers in a bid to address the serious wage inequalities currently seen in the health sector. And in a township of Cixi, on the coast of Zhejiang, worker representatives reportedly signed a wage agreement with representatives of 19 lighter factories in the district creating a unified wage, overtime payments and benefits structure.

The extent to which these initiatives will actually benefit the workers concerned however is not clear. Simply signing an agreement with enterprises will be of little use unless the agreement goes someway towards satisfying the needs and demands of the workforce. Unless the employees at the enterprises are actively involved in the negotiations, there is a danger the local trade union will put the need to meet their government-set quotas ahead of the needs of the workers.
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