Chinese local governments are under strict instructions to raise their minimum wages to counteract the continually soaring food prices across the country, revealed sources with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security on Thursday.
Local governments must comply with these regulations before the end of the year in all regions where minimum wages are rising slowly or are significantly lower than the local average wage, according to a ministry circular.
The ministry required all labor departments to come up with timely schemes to adjust monthly and hourly minimum wage standards, mirroring local economic conditions, average wages, consumer prices and employment rate.
Food prices have soared across China this year, driving inflation up in May by 3.4 percent higher than a year earlier, far outstripping the government's warning level of three percent.
Grain prices rose 5.9 percent, meat and poultry 26.5 percent, and eggs 37.1 percent in May, all of which would hit the purses of low-income families the hardest.
In China, minimum wage standards vary widely from region to region. Topping rankings for 2006 was Shenzhen City with a monthly rate of 810 yuan (US$105), as compared to bottom Jiangxi Province with 270 yuan per month.
Efforts are being made to raise this level with twenty-nine of the mainland's 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions increasing their minimum wage standards in 2006. A large increase came in Shanghai which, aware of its status as one of the country's most expensive cities, hiked its minimum wage by 60 yuan a month to reach 750 yuan.
(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2007)