Migrant workers in Hainan paid far less than the minimum wage

02 September 2010
One sixth of migrant workers in Hainan earn less than 500 yuan a month, far below the legal minimum wage in the province, according to a survey by the province’s trade union federation.

The majority (55 percent) of the 350 workers surveyed by the union earned between 500 yuan and 1,000 yuan a month. Only five percent could earn more than 2,000 yuan a month. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of the respondents said they were not satisfied with their current level of income.

The minimum wage in Hainan was raised by 200 yuan per month on 1 July, an average increase of 37 percent, and the highest increase of any province in China this year. Yet, the survey clearly showed, this adjustment has had little impact on the poorest paid migrant workers in the province. The minimum wage in Hainan now ranges from 680 yuan a month to 830 yuan in the main cities such as Haikou and Sanya, but this is still only about the average wage for those migrant workers surveyed.

Many workers had not signed contracts with their employer, and most complained of low wages, wage arrears or only partial payment of wages. Most respondents said laws and regulations related working hours and conditions and holidays were routinely ignored by the employer, who unilaterally determined pay and working conditions.

In addition, the gap between the wages of migrant workers and workers with an urban residency is alarming. The average monthly wage in Sanya is now 2,455 yuan. Most migrant workers can only earn a third of that.

And when compared to the cost of a room at one of the luxury hotels that line Sanya’s beach front, the low wages of migrant workers fall into even sharper relief. Many five star hotels were reportedly charging more than 10,000 yuan per night during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, the equivalent of an entire year’s pay for many migrants in the city.
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