Several cities in China’s southern Guangdong province, which is home to many electronics manufacturers, plan to raise the minimum wage in September, state-owned media reported Thursday.
The increase, which averages 17.8 percent across the province, is the seventh mandated during the past 12 years, the official China Daily newspaper said. It did not offer details of current minimum wage levels in the province.
The announcement comes on the heels of a U.K. newspaper report on Chinese factory workers in Guangdong who assembled Apple Computer’s iPod music player, working long hours for relatively low wages. That report, which was picked up and reported by Chinese media, has spurred online calls for overseas companies to pay Chinese workers more.
It was not immediately clear what impact the increased minimum wage will have. Electronics manufacturers have long relied on cheap Chinese labor to assemble products for export to more developed markets, such as the United States and Europe. However, manufacturing costs have risen in recent years as salaries have climbed higher.
The latest wage increases in Guangdong take effect on Sept. 1, the report said. At that time, the minimum wage for workers in Guangzhou will be raised to 780 renminbi (US$97.50) per month. The cities of Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan and Zhongshan will raise the minimum wage to 690 renminbi.
Shenzhen, which lies across the border from Hong Kong, will raise its minimum wage to 810 renminbi.
Other Chinese cities and provinces are considering lifting the minimum wage, the report said. At present, the minimum wage in Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu province is 690 renminbi. The current minimum wage in Beijing is 640 renminbi, it said.
-Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service (Beijing Bureau)
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