Shenzhen trade union announces major push for collective wage negotiations

The Shenzhen municipal trade union plans to negotiate and sign collective wage agreements at 550 enterprises this year, part of a five year plan to “reduce wage inequality and allow the city’s millions of migrant workers to share in the benefits of economic development,” the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone News reported.

A national trade union conference on the development of collective wage negotiations, held in Shenzhen on 18 March, stipulated that the city should aim to conclude a total of 1,000 collective agreements within the next five years.

The conference also confirmed the municipal government’s determination to push through its Collective Consultation Regulations (深圳经济特区集体协商条例), which were discussed by the municipal people’s congress’ standing committee last September. The regulations are scheduled to be implemented this year, the newspaper said.

The Shenzhen trade union federation reported that 151 enterprises in the city had signed collective agreements last year, with 140 of those stipulating salary increases. Most wage rises were only between eight and ten percent, with the highest increase reaching 33 percent.

These were relatively moderate gains, especially taking into account the 20 percent increase in the minimum wage on 1 July last year, but the head of city’s United Front Department, Zhang Siping, told the conference Shenzhen’s trade union was now entering a new period of “bold innovation and reform” aimed at boosting the income of ordinary workers.

China Labour Bulletin Director Han Dongfang noted that the union’s attitude was very different from the end of 2008, when all collective bargaining initiatives were put on hold in the wake of the global economic crisis. “I can sense that we are at the start of a new page of history,” he said.
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