Getting a decent wage and benefits: An uphill task for workers in China

Low wages and the non-payment of wages are probably the two most important causes of labour disputes in China today. To help our readers better understand this important issue, CLB has produced a new background article on Wages in China, which shows that while average wage levels have steadily increased, so has the gap between wages in different employment sectors and regions. It demonstrates that the government's minimum wage often cannot support workers' basic needs, and that many workers are paid less than the minimum wage. The article describes how the non-payment or delayed payment of wages has become an increasingly serious problem and how the number of labour disputes has risen as a result.
Our Workers' Voices section now includes a firsthand account, entitled More Work for Less Gain, of how a young factory worker was forced to work excessive hours for increasingly less pay. Another article, Solidarity from the sidelines: Union passivity allows a steel strike to escalate, shows how the official trade union at steel plant in Shaanxi was unable to effectively represent workers in their dispute over wages and benefits. Oil workers in Xinjiang left out in the cold and Retired teachers battle with county government for their benefits describe how retired and laid-off workers are still attempting to get the benefits owed to them many years after the fact.
Last November, we published an article on how Migrant Workers are starting to win significant compensation awards in the courts. We have now followed this up with a detailed break-down of the work disability scale which determines the level of Compensation for Work-related Injury and Occupational Disease in China. This new article describes in detail government regulations on work-related compensation, however as the interview in Workers' Voices, Company boss and the courts add insult to injury for migrant worker in Wuhan, shows, actually getting the compensation they are entitled to by law can be a very trying experience for employees.
The latest newsletter from China Labor News Translations, issued on 20 February 2008, also focuses on wages and includes three valuable articles on the problems migrant workers have obtaining back pay. Please see Migrant Workers and the Chronic Problem of Owed Wages.
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