Monopolies wages in the cross hairs

Category:[world] [CHINA] [Regional]

GUANGZHOU: Official statistics have shown that employees of some profitable monopoly enterprises earn much more than the national average, drawing fire from across the nation.

In response, officials in Guangdong announced this week that they will launch the country's first investigation into how profitable enterprises distribute wages.

The investigation should be finished by the end of the year, they said.

"We will cooperate with other local departments, such as the State-owned assets supervision and administration commission, finance department and statistics bureau," Zhang Xiang, the spokesman of Guangdong provincial department of labor and social security, told China Daily yesterday.

"We will figure out how to control the high wages in some sectors after the investigation," Zhang said.

According to a report by China Economic Daily, 12 companies will be investigated soon. Among them are Guangdong Development Bank Securities Co, Guangdong Telecom, Nanfang Daily and China Southern Airline Co.

Experts said they hoped other provinces would follow Guangdong's example, saying such high wages in monopoly sectors raise serious social equity issues.

The most profitable industries in the country include power generation, telecommunications, finance, insurance and tobacco processing. Figures from the National Statistics Bureau show that the average personal income in these profitable industries is two to three times more than in other industries.

In 2000, the aviation transportation sector paid the highest average wage, offereing about 21,300 yuan ($2,800) a year. At the other end of the spectrum, workers in the forestry sector earned only about 4,500 yuan a year on average.

The wage gap continued to grow through 2004. Workers in the securities industry were the biggest earners, taking home some 50,500 yuan a year. This was seven times what forestry workers made during the period.

Experts said the gap is actually bigger than seven times because workers in the most profitable industries also enjoy other benefits, such as monthly allowances, that poorer industries cannot provide.

A recent report by the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily said a worker at an electricity company who checks the meters at residential buildings earns 6,500 yuan a month.

However, when the annual bonus and other benefits are factored in, such workers earn 150,000 yuan a year, more than seven times the national average of 21,000 yuan last year.

Starting last year, there have been numerous public calls on the government to take steps to control wages in profitable monopoly enterprises.

(China Daily 06/06/2007 page5)

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