Official: Wage share decreases 22 years in a row

By Hou Lei (
Updated: 2010-05-12 15:33
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An official from the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) said workers' wages as a proportion of GDP have gone down for 22 consecutive years since 1983, Beijing News reported Wednesday.

Zhang Jianguo, a senior official from the ACFTU said wage shares were 56.5% of 1983's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has continued to drop, until in 2005 it was only 36.7%.

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Mr. Zhang said the low wage level is an important root cause of some major events, such as taxi drivers' strikes, that have happened in China these past few years.

A recent survey made by the ACFTU showed that 23.4% employees have not got a raise once in the past five years and 75.2% surveyed said they believe the current income distribution system is unfair.

Of those polled, 61% believed low income for ordinary employees is the biggest unfairness, according to the report.

An earlier Xinhua story in 2010 said the government will urge more private companies to set up salary negotiation mechanisms between employers and employees.

China's labor law allows employees of a company to select representatives to negotiate salary arrangements with representatives of their employers. Through such negotiations, the two sides will reach a collective contract. Considered an effective way to protect workers' interests, the mechanism is not yet widely accepted by Chinese employers, according to Xinhua.

Mr. Zhang said some employers fear collective bargaining will hurt their interests and are reluctant to adopt it. Besides, he said many employees in China are unaware of their rights anyway.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in this year's government work report that the government will gradually increase the proportion of income individuals receive from the distribution of national income, as well as the proportion of the primary distribution of income that goes to wages and salaries.

By late April, seven provinces and municipalities had raised their minimum wages and twenty more will adjust the minimum wage levels later this year.