Low-wage labour set to change in China

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Men carrying metal pipes at a construction site in China

Wages in China more than tripled between 2000 and 2010, leading to speculation about whether the era of cheap Chinese labour is over.

According to the International Labor Organization –ILO Global Wage Reeport 2012/2013, the figures relate mainly to state-owned enterprises, known as urban units, but separate surveys show that wages in small and medium private enterprises are also rising sharply, although pay levels are lower than in the public sector.

Sangheon Lee, one of the co-authors of the ILO Global Wage Report 2012/2013, says wages in urban units increased on average at double digit annual rates over the full decade."

He says "The wage rises are across the board, from people working in restaurants to office workers. The highest wages are in the financial sectors and in state owned sectors, where employees receive very high wages."

The rapid wage growth signals a shift in government policy towards creating a more balanced, sustainable economy that is less reliant on exports.

The government's five-year plan to 2015 aimed to double wage income as part of the strategy to rebalance the economy. Since 2003 there have also been regular increases of minimum wages across China.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’12″

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