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China will lower employers’ contribution rates for work-related injury insurance and maternity insurance from 1 October this year, the State Council announced yesterday, 24 June.
The municipal government in Dongguan, China’s “factory to the world,” is making it more difficult for workers, already squeezed by the economic slowdown, to get their hands on their housing fund contributions.
China's flagging economy is making it harder for Beijing to mend holes in its pension system for 166 million of the country's migrant workers, a problem that contributed to a doubling in the number of strikes last year.
Just five days after the Chinese government announced ground-breaking reforms to the country’s pension system, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has stated that both wages and pensions for public sector employees will go up in order to compensate for any losses caused by the reform plan.
The massive wave of teachers’ strikes in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang at the end of last year may have been just the beginning. The Heilongjiang teachers were unhappy with low pay and long working hours, but their key demand was the abolition of a policy that required them to pay their own pension contributions.
It was no surprise that when the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) announced in early June that raising the retirement age for workers in China was unavoidable due to people’s longer life expectancy, it quickly galvanized a heated public debate.Front page photo of worker in Xi'an's old city by Mathieu Gasnier.
Two workers were held in police detention for 26 days for allegedly imprisoning their factory manager in a dispute over unpaid pension contributions. They were eventually released on 29 April but the police have refused to say if the workers will be charged or not.
The Beijing authorities will on 1 January increase the city’s minimum wage for a second time in six months. The monthly minimum wage will go up by 200 yuan to 1,160 yuan, making it the highest in the country. In total, the Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Department announced six new measures, all of which will go into effect on 1 January, to strengthen its social welfare safety net as price rises begin to hurt the city’s most vulnerable.
China Labour Bulletin was extensively quoted by major news organizations, including Time and The Guardian, on the riot at a steel plant in Jilin that led to the death of a senior manager.
Two major strikes over the last two weeks have shown that some local governments and managements have still not learnt important lessons from the privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) at the turn of the century. The protests at the state-owned Golden Emperor Group textile plant in Chongqing’s Fuling district on 13 and 14 April, and the former state-owned Yimian textile factory in Baoding, Hebei, in the first week of April erupted for precisely the same reasons as in the majority of SOE privatization disputes a decade ago: wages arrears, inadequate compensation for lay offs and the misappropriation of assets by management.

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