The Beijing Municipal Federation of Trade Unions will promote wage negotiation in the security, housekeeping and health care industries in 2010, and will try to introduce wage standards for these industries by 2010. The standards will likely stipulate that “if enterprises realize economic growth, employees will be granted a proportional raise in pay” must be included in the contract when enterprises sign a collective contract with union or staff representatives.
Haidian will be the first pilot district
Huang Wei, director of the labor rights department of the Beijing Municipal Federation of Trade Unions, said in order to solve the difficulty of contract signing in SMEs, the federation will begin the work through the wage negotiation in different regions and industries in 2010, and set wage standards for industries by means of negotiation. All enterprises should act by negotiating and following the standards. Currently, the federation is doing related research in order to introduce wage standards for the housekeeping, security and healthcare industries by 2010.
Huang said the wage standards for the three industries will be implemented differently because of the different conditions in the industries. The problems of the security industry include how much money should be charged for having a security guard, the expenditure of security guard companies and the wage of security guards. Currently, there are 370,000 housekeepers in Beijing. The federation will set different wage standards by the different jobs done by maternity matrons, babysitters and other housekeepers. Because there are only five large-scale healthcare companies in Beijing, a comprehensive research must be conducted into health care workers’ workload, work intensity and time. Moreover, the operating costs of healthcare companies must be known as well.
The three wage standards to be introduced stipulate that “if enterprises realize economic growth, employees will be granted a proportional raise in pay” must be included in the contract when enterprises are signing a collective contract with the union or staff representatives, and the pay raise must be higher than price level so that employees’ purchasing power can be maintained and improved. The proportion of the pay raise can be decided through the negotiation between employers and employees after considering the characteristics of the industries.
According to sources, 1.79 million employees in 18,000 enterprises currently are able to conduct collective negotiation about their wages. However, only 30% of the 18,000 enterprises included the key clause regarding "employees will be granted a proportional pay increase" into the wage agreement. After the new wage standards are introduced, the clause that says "employees will be granted a proportional pay increase" must be included in contract.
The wage standards have the binding force of the law
"Regional standards serve a purpose – instruction," said Huang, "Under the Labor Contract Law of People's Republic of China, however, the regional standards are legally binding. If enterprises fail to comply with them, governmental departments are entitled to supervise these enterprises and help them correct their wrongdoing. In the meantime, after the wage standards are introduced, workers can have more control over their working environment and treatment so that they can better protect their rights and interests.
According to sources, one of the reasons for the difficult and slow development of collective wage negotiation is employees' low personal qualities and limited knowledge of their rights and interests protection on their initiative, which resulted in the weak negotiation capabilities of the labor unions. Currently, the federation has organized a wage instruction team comprised of 129 people. Among the 129 people, some are union leaders, and some are human resource leaders and lawyers. The federation will improve the union's negotiation capability through simulation exercises and other methods, and launch wage negotiation among housekeepers, healthcare workers, security guards, insurance agents, contract employees and other special groups by considering their needs and wishes.
"Wage instructors will mainly help employees earning less than 1,100 yuan a month," said Huang. The enterprises these employees work for are mostly in labor-intensive fields. Wage instructors will conduct a detailed analysis after learning about the conditions in these enterprises, and will ask permission from the first-level government whether or not they can help employees gain their corresponding rights and interests by freeing them of the burden of income tax.
Labor-management dispute rate jumps 50 percent year on year
According to Huang, since 2009, there has been a high incidence of collective disputes in labor and labor-management disputes in Beijing. Also in the same year, the number of labor disputes dealt with by the labor dispute arbitration bodies increased by nearly 50 percent year on year. Most of these labor disputes were caused by the disputes over wages, which accounted for 60 percent of the total number of disputes.
Many enterprises adopt various methods to break the rules in hidden ways, or adopt the minimum wage standard in Beijing as their employees' wage standard, or force workers to work longer by increasing workload standard and other methods to keep workers' wages at a low level, or by including board, accommodations and other expenditures into employees' wages. These actions are detrimental to workers’ rights and interests.