Equal Work, Equal Pay
   2014-03-17 15:37:01    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Guo

"Equal work, equal pay" should be the natural order of things in a society. But in China, some employees of large state-owned companies and public institutions aren't receiving adequate payment for their performance. [Photo: people.com.cn]

"Equal work, equal pay" should be the natural order of things in a society. But in China, some employees at large state-owned companies and public institutions aren't receiving equal pay for working in positions of the same level. This is because they are taking on jobs through agreements with contracting companies, rather than entering into official contracts with their employers.

CRI's Shen Ting brings you more about this situation.


Han Bo, a white-collar worker in Beijing, has been working at a public institution for eight years. He said that, in the institution, staff members are divided into two classes--"inside" and "outside" the system. "Inside" the system refers to those signed with the institution, while "outside" the system are those signed with a company who provides contractors for the institution. Han is one of the "outsiders".

"We receive different medical care services and housing subsidies. We pay for medical insurance, while they enjoy free medical care. Their housing stipend is at least 300 yuan higher than ours. We do the same work and get same salary."

Why is this situation so common in China? Shi Fumao, a lawyer at Zhicheng Migrant Workers' Legal Aid Center, explains:

"If the worksite employer pays the contractor the same as their formal employees, their total costs will rise. They have to pay the contracting company, along with the contractors. Companies target profits, so they won't pay for those hired on-contract the way they would pay their formal employees."

China's labor laws stipulate that those who do the same work must be paid equally. Still, employers can find some loopholes and reduce the payment for their contractors.

Sun Hongyan, a lawyer at Zhongyin Law firm in Beijing, analyzes how employers avoid equal payment legally.

"According to article 62 of the Labor Contract Law, employers should pay equal position-related welfare to contractors. But that gives employers exploitable loopholes. For example, perfect attendance and year-end bonuses may not be available to contractors. If contractors argue, employers say that this part has nothing to do with your position. So it doesn't violate the law."

Labor abuses have existed for a long time in China. To ensure social equality, many experts and National People's Congress deputies offer their suggestions.

Zhu Guoping, director of a residential committee in Shanghai, is a deputy to the just concluded NPC session. She believes a special supervising authority should be set up to monitor employers and punish labor regulation violators.

"The Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch stipulates the dispatch time should be less than six months. So the authority must investigate employers and ask contractors themselves to see whether their contract period abides by the provision. And let the contractors know the government does have concern for their rights."

The government has said that it is trying to close the gap between formal employees and contractors. Enterprise management reform in China has been proposed by officials, and some enterprises are heeding the call. Han Bo is glad to see the beginnings of what he sees as a coming change.

"Our institution has more and more staff signed with the employers on contract, while the number of those signed with the institution is reducing. Our department runs as an enterprise and our directors are also 'outside' the system. As a senior staff member here, I don't care whether workers are in or outside the system. Of course, we hope the gap can be finally abolished, but we can understand that reform is a long-term process--it needs time."

In large cities, there are many people working at public institutions as contractors like Han. They work hard and want to be treated equally. As an important part of China's overall reform, the goal of "equal work, equal pay" needs to one day become a reality.

For CRI, I'm Shen Ting.



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