Guangdong province is expected to allow its large number of migrant workers to negotiate salaries and related benefits annually with their employers after a new regulation is passed.
Under the revised regulation, workers will have the right to discuss their salaries and other benefits no more than once a year.
The regulation was submitted to the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress for review on Sept 23.
Li Huanxin, a senior legislator with the provincial congress, said special working groups had been sent to Beijing and Hong Kong to help exchange views, promote the regulation and seek opinions before it was sent to legislators for review.
A neighbor of Hong Kong and Macao, Guangdong, one of the country’s economic powerhouses, has registered a large number of companies funded by investors from Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years. These companies are mainly located in the prosperous Pearl River Delta region.
It is the first time Guangdong has drafted rules and regulations allowing migrant workers to negotiate salaries and other benefits with employers.
Peng Peng, a senior researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said the change will help settle disputes between employers and employees.
“After the government has set minimum salaries, the new rule allowing workers to negotiate salary adjustments and other benefits with employers will help ensure that workers’ salaries catch up with price increases,” Peng said.
Cheng Xiandong, a migrant worker from Jiangxi province, said it is good news for the large number of migrant workers in Guangdong.
The departments involved should make great efforts to promote and implement the changes when they are passed, Cheng said.
But one local business boss who did not want to be named is worried that production costs will rise after the change is made because the new rule “encourages workers to discuss salary increases with employers annually”.
The revision is reportedly being drafted following a growing number of disputes between migrant workers and employers in the province.
On Sept 9, about 16,000 workers at two companies in Dongguan funded with investments from Taiwan stopped working after their employers failed to give them mooncake coupons for Mid-Autumn Festival and their festival bonus was cut from about 600 yuan ($98) to 100 yuan.
At the end of April, thousands of workers at a major shoe manufacturer in Dongguan went on strike after learning that the company had not paid, or not fully paid, their unemployment, endowment, medical, maternity and occupational injury insurance and housing provident fund contributions.
The strikes ended after mediation by local government departments and a promise by the employers to improve workers’ treatment.