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Guangzhou's contracted workers to get yearly 12% hike
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All the contractual employees in Guangzhou are expected to enjoy an average pay increase of 12 percent each year until 2012 as part of a new government plan.

Dubbed as a "Salary Doubling Scheme", it aims to increase the average annual salary of all the contractual workers to about 70,000 yuan in 2012, an increase of nearly four times the 18,974 it was in 2000, said Cui Renquan, director of the Guangzhou Labor and Social Security Bureau, in a meeting last Wednesday.

"We hope workers in the city can share the fast-growing economic achievements and enjoy a substantial increase in their incomes, if no faster than the gross domestic product (GDP) growth," Cui said.

The government will take corresponding measures to establish a fair and practical system to make sure that the companies give the raises, he noted.

Of all these measures, the government will firstly promote the setup of a salary-negotiation system, which is expected to be accomplished in three years, according to the labor authority.

"The companies, employees and the third party composed of government departments - including departments of labor and social security, finance, tax and supervising departments, as well as trade unions and industrial associations - should sit down and negotiate the employees' salary together every year," Cui said.

The negotiation could refer to the salary guidance level issued by the government annually, and the labor authority will supervise the implementation when the salary adjustment has been worked out, he said.

Meanwhile, the local government will also study a new management mode that could put all the information from payment systems and other businesses concerning social security onto a card, so that the workers' benefits can be fully guaranteed.

The labor authority said the new plan is workable, but some residents still expressed their concerns.

"The annual 12 percent payment growth is a prudent and even conservative forecast, said Han Zhirong, chief of the salary division of the Guangzhou Labor and Social Security Bureau.

According to the official figures, the salary growth stood at 16.69 percent, 13.38 percent and 12.48 percent, respectively, from 2001 to 2003. The average salary in 2006 was nearly double what it was in 2000.

"Although the growth slowed down over the past two years to below 10 percent, the companies could have the capability to fulfill the targeted 12 percent growth in the coming years given the considerable accumulation," Han said.

Many residents were cheered up by the government's pay-raise plan, but some of them still expressed their concerns on online forums.

"The job market is not optimistic," one netizen said. "We will be satisfied if the pay raise keeps up with the CPI and we still have stable jobs."

(China Daily, March 31, 2008)

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