Workers seek higher salaries

By Yu Tianyu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-12 10:14
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Workers seek higher salaries

Former Miss Hong Kong Li Jiaxin responds to media questions during a charity event in Hong Kong. Her picture is now a popular computer desktop image of many white-collar workers on the mainland. It's being used as a humorous way of reminding bosses about salary increases because the pronunciation of Jiaxin is the same as the Chinese phrase for pay rise. [China Daily] 

Many employees threaten to quit unless they get pay rises this year

BEIJING: A new office trend has sprung up this year among Chinese white-collar workers involving the posting of photos of former Miss Hong Kong Li Jiaxin in their offices and making her picture their computer desktop image.

It is not that they are necessarily infatuated with her beauty. Rather, it is a humorous way of reminding their bosses about salary increases because the pronunciation of Jiaxin is the same as the Chinese phrase for pay rise.

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There are also millions of teacups on sale imprinted with the slogan "I need a salary increase" at, Chinese largest e-shopping site. Many white-collar workers have placed them prominently on their desks or take them to meetings with their bosses.

Song Xi, a 27-year-old analyst working in Shanghai, said: "Of course, it is just a way that young Chinese - including me - are entertaining themselves. Most bosses still retain a distant look.

"I have been working at this consultancy for four years. In 2009, for the first time, I didn't get any salary increase. It used to be a 10 to 15 percent rise every year."

According to a recent survey by, a human resource service firm based in Beijing, around 66.3 percent of 6,000 respondents didn't get any increase in their salary in 2009.

The financial crisis placed a big burden on Chinese white-collar workers. About 41.1 percent of the survey respondents felt very unsatisfied with their salary in 2009 and 21.7 percent of them said that a pay rise was their top expectation this year.

Wang Haoshu is a 26-year-old magazine editor based in Xiamen, Fujian province. He said: "A 7,000 yuan monthly salary seems to be fair for people with only three years of working experience. But I feel compelled to complain about my salary, which hasn't risen over the past year, because of the rocketing house prices. I hope my salary catches up with the growth of house prices. I'm willing to work overtime or burn the midnight oil for a better salary."

The results of an investigation by All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) showed that based on analysis of the annual reports of listed companies, at 208 State-owned enterprises, incomes of front-line employees are 18 times lower than top executives. More than 23 percent of employees didn't get any increase in their salary in the past five years.

Wang Wei, 29, has been working for a State-owned manufacturing enterprise in Beijing for five years. "Fortunately, we routinely get salary increases that basically depend on length of service," he said. "Every year I get hundreds of yuan more, but it is really little better than nothing."

According to official statistics, China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of 10.13 percent from 2002 to 2009. However, the inflation-adjusted income of Chinese employees only grew 8.18 percent annually over the same period.

Zhang Shiping, an ACFTU official and a member of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said during the CPPCC annual meeting in Beijing last month that rises in property and commodity prices have led to a decline in quality of life for some Chinese employees.

More than half of the survey respondents said they would look for another job if their salary remained unchanged in 2010.

Li Chunjiang, a 29-year-old trip planner at a State-owned travel agency, said: "I will quit my job if I don't get any rise in my salary because it is unfair to a hard-working employee like me who hasn't had any cash bonus in two years."

He said his 52-year-old mother, who works at a kindergarten, earned 200 yuan more a month compared with last year.

"I can understand that my company encountered many difficulties during the financial tsunami, but to receive no salary increase actually affected my work performance and has made me very depressed," Li said.

Senior human resource consultants of said Chinese people always take the time after the Spring Festival holiday to start thinking seriously about their career.

They said the potential for career development should be a key factor when people are deciding whether to work for a company or not, rather than salary.

Feng Huichao at Horizon Group said frequent small-scale bonuses or increases in salary based on performance was much more effective in encouraging employees and retaining talent.

In addition to the money, Wang Shuili of Horizon Group wrote in a report that corporate managers should try to encourage staff in many other simple but considerate ways, such as offering praise in public or a note of thanks. Such gestures are deemed to boost work efficiency and performance, he said.

A survey by international human resource firm Hudson, found that because of the global economic recovery, about 64 percent of companies it polled were willing to pay a 10 percent higher salary than the previous post afforded to lure talented managers and 24 percent were willing to pay 20 percent more.

More than 1,500 key human resources personnel, mostly at international businesses, were polled in the survey.

Thanks to China's stimulus plans for domestic consumption, more than 82 percent of polled companies in the consumer goods sector will increase salaries by more than 10 percent. Only 1 percent of polled enterprises in banking and financing said they wouldn't raise salaries.