[Marxism] Forwarded from China Labor Watch

Stuart Lawrence stuartlawrence at earthlink.net
Sun Dec 5 20:12:54 MST 2004

For those who didn't feel like doing the arithmetic, this report says 
that the lowest minimum wage in Guangdong province is $42 a month, or 
about twenty cents an hour, and the highest minimum wage is $83 a month, 
or about forty cents an hour. This is before a payroll tax is deducted. 
The woman worker is quoted as saying that rent, gas (cooking gas?) and 
other utility bills alone cost her $46 a month.

It boggles the mind to consider how many millions of items made in China 
that people in the US will buy in the next three weeks, each costing 
more than a month's wages in Guangdong province.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>

Guangdong Province Raises Minimum Wage Level


The Guangdong provincial government announced this late November its 
decision to raise the minimum wage level for all workers and staff 
members within the province. The new minimum wage standard, with an 
average increase of 8.61%, was implemented in December 1, 2004.

It is reported that this is the sixth time for the Guangdong province to 
raise the wage level since the beginning of the minimum wage standard 
measure back in 1994.

The new minimum wage standard is divided into the following categories: 
the first category is 684 Yuan/month, the second category - 574 
Yuan/month, the third category - 494 Yuan/month, the fourth category - 
446 Yuan/month, the fifth category - 410 Yuan/month, the sixth 
category -377 Yuan/month, and the seventh category - 352 Yuan/month. 
Each region within the province can choose its own minimum wage 
standard, which should not be lower than the seventh category, based on 
its specific situation. The different districts within a city can also 
carry out different wage levels.

New Standard Includes Social Security Fee

The current minimum wage standard was formulated on the basis of 
"Regulations on Enterprises Minimum Wage," enacted by the Ministry of 
Labor, and the local government's "Regulations on Enterprises Minimum 
Wage in Guangdong Province." It does not include workers's social 
security fee.

The new minimum wage standard includes workers' minimum social security 
fee, which used to be paid separately by employers to workers who in 
turn pay the relevant government agencies. This new measure prevents 
employers from referring to all kinds of excuses and from not to paying 
workers' social security fee, thus this measure can, to some extend, 
protect workers' rights.

Actual Increase Rate is Low

On the other hand, because the new minimum wage standard includes 
workers' social security fee, the actual increase rate is not high at 

Take Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong province, for 

Under the new standard Guangzhou's minimum wage level is increased from
510 Yuan per month to 684 Yuan with an increase rate of 34%. However, 
after deducting 155 Yuan as the minimum social security fee, the actual 
wage increase is only 19 Yuan, indicating an increase rate of only 

"I work 8 hours a day and receive 800 Yuan per month. Little will be 
left after paying 82 Yuan for gas and more than 300 Yuan for water, 
electricity, rent, and phone bills. For a mother who has to raise a 
child, even 800 is not enough," says Liu Yongli, a woman from Hunan 
province currently working as a street cleaning worker at Guangta 
Street, Yuexiu District.
(Source: Information Daily).

Guangdong is one of the most economically developed provinces in China.

Since the 1970s when China launched the economic reforms, Guangdong 
province has been developing many industrial sectors, such as export, 
foreign investment, where the province is now leading, per capita 

However, workers' wages in general, with migrant workers' wages in 
particular, have not witnessed any significant increase since the 1980s. 
Many private employers do not even implement the minimum wage standard 
at all, and never pay for their employees' medical insurance and social 
security. Workers' already low wages are not enough for them to make a 
normal living, which is made even worse due to the continuingly 
increasing prices.

China Labor Watch strongly urges the government to formulate a 
monitoring mechanism and a system of rewards and penalties to fully 
carry out the minimum wage standard. If employers offer a wage that is 
lower than the minimum wage level or, as very often, delay the payment, 
government departments in charge should take effective measures to make 
them comply with the regulations, or even fine them if necessary.

* The exchange rate between USD and Yuan is about 1: 8.27

Li Qiang
Phone: 1-917-257-8589
China Labor Watch
P.O. Box 4134
Grand Central Station
New York, NY 10163-4134

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