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Workers Grumble About Wages

Nearly 60 percent of employees in large Chinese cities including Shanghai say they are unsatisfied with their current income, a recent survey suggests.

One of China's leading Web-based headhunters, 51job.com, surveyed 8,675 employees, mostly aged 23 to 29, in Shanghai, Beijing and other major Chinese cities by asking how they feel about their current salary.

Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said that they saw a slight increase in their salary this year. Most of them work in the manufacturing or trade industries.

Meanwhile, another 39 percent of respondents said their salaries "remained untouched" from last year, the report said.

The report also indicated that Shanghai workers were more likely to have received a substantial pay raise last year than employees in any other major city. Only those working in the city's durable goods or fast moving consumer goods manufacturing sectors said their salary dropped this year.

"The salary fluctuation is closely related to the development of individual industries that employees are in," said Joyce Jiang, an analyst with 51job.com.

She said booming real estate sales around the country have done a great deal to increase salaries in related sectors, such as architecture and interior design.

Mature industries such as durable goods manufacturing, however, have limited room to increase salaries as they are already fully developed, Jiang said.

About 56 percent of the respondents in the survey with three to five years work experience said they were better paid this year, a percentage much higher than that of recent university graduates.

However, most local employees still say they are underpaid.

"My boss keeps pressing me to do more and more work, but with little extra pay. It almost drives me mad seeing others who lead a relaxing life while earning the same as me," said Michael Shen, sales manager at a US bio-tech company.

More than 31 percent of employees surveyed said that their current income doesn't match their position.

Another 30 percent said they are looking forward to a salary increase due to mounting work pressure, the report said.

But only 36 percent of respondents said that they will directly talk to their boss about a pay raise.

"I don't dare to talk directly with the boss. It's doomed to fail," said Wang Qiuhan, another local office worker.

Stella Qin, a human resource manager with a local IT company, said that employers can also comfort their staff by giving them more holidays and insurance.

But half of the employees surveyed said they will keep an eye on other job opportunities if they don't get a pay raise.

(Shanghai Daily May 27, 2004)

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