【英语中国】中国养老金欠缴问题引发关注 China wakes up to growing problem of underfunded pension schemes

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-5-8 06:41

小艾摘要: Perched in front of a computer in a one-room apartment in Gaobu, Ms Wang opens the social security website, enters her personal details, and calls up her pension payment record.The screen says she has ...
China wakes up to growing problem of underfunded pension schemes
Perched in front of a computer in a one-room apartment in Gaobu, Ms Wang opens the social security website, enters her personal details, and calls up her pension payment record.

The screen says she has paid into the pension for 85 months. She then points to a printed record from a recent visit to the social security bureau that says she has only contributed for 35 months, and laughs.

“If you ask 10 workers, nine don’t understand what is on the forms,” says Ms Wang, an alias for one of 40,000 workers who recently joined the biggest strike in China in decades.

Workers at Yue Yuen Industrial, which makes running shoes for Nike and Adidas at a factory complex in Gaobu, said it underpaid their pensions for years.

After 11 days of protest, the Dongguan municipal government handed them a rare victory by saying the company should have based contributions on a higher pay level. Yue Yuen estimates it will have to pay an additional $31m just this year after agreeing to base pension payments on total pay, including overtime.

The strike cast a harsh spotlight on Yue Yuen, the biggest employer in Gaobu, one of many towns that form the manufacturing metropolis of Dongguan. But workers, labour activists and factory managers say the practice is widespread in the Pearl River Delta – the workshop of the world – in south China.

Local governments are allowing companies to pay lower contributions than required as they fear their leaving, particularly as factories face double-digit wage rises each year.

“The government has been keeping one eye open, one eye closed all along,” said one Yue Yuen worker. “It did not want to put too big a burden on the factory, since it wants foreign investment.”

In 1997, China introduced a national pension system that requires employers and employees to contribute. Companies should make payments as a percentage of total pay, but many use a lower figure that does not include overtime. Factory workers often earn several multiples of the minimum wage through extra hours.

Zhang Zhiru, a labour activist who was detained by police for helping Yue Yuen workers, says local governments allow companies to underpay pensions as long as their calculations are based on a higher figure than the minimum wage.

Factory managers said the practice was common. One said that Dongguan required his company to make payments for only 55 per cent of its workers, and added: “The base for calculating contributions should have been raised to Rmb2,138 ($342) from Rmb1,813 in 2012. But most factories still use the lower number and the Dongguan social security bureau has been acquiescing.”

Adidas said Yue Yuen’s payments were “in accordance with an agreement which they had reached with the Dongguan authorities”. Yue Yuen has denied breaking any laws. Asked about deals with companies over payment levels, a Yue Yuen spokesman said it was a “prevalent practice”.

“Yue Yuen has given local governments in the Pearl River Delta a real headache,” says Mr Zhang. “How do you solve the pension problem?”

The pension issue has not previously sparked as much unrest as that witnessed at Yue Yuen. One reason is workers are reluctant to contribute due to difficulties transferring pension when they move cities – a big problem given the fluid nature of the labour force.

Zheng Bingwen, an adviser to the Chinese labour ministry, says in some cases when workers move, the government in their new district must fund the portion of the pension that could not be transferred, creating a reluctance to accept accounts.

Professor Mu Guangzong, of Peking University’s Institute of Population Research, says: “The social security system is fragmented. It’s like the Beijing metro system – lines are not well connected making transfers very difficult.”

Sitting in a café near Yue Yuen, one furniture factory worker in his early twenties says many young workers have not worried about pensions. “I don’t really care about the pension issue, as I’m really young. I won’t spend my whole life in a factory,” says the man.

A friend chimes in that “most young workers think the same way, which is why nobody at Yue Yuen checked their pensions”, but that more are now paying attention. He says some of his co-workers have recently found similar problems, but are of unwilling to start a strike out of fears that they would be fired.

“Since Yue Yuen, many people have gone to print their pension records,” says Ms Wang. “I waited for an hour to print mine. In -normal times, nobody would be lining up.”

Additional reporting by Julie Zhu

在高埗镇的一间单房公寓里,王小姐(化名)坐在电脑前,打开社保网站,输入她的个人信息,并调出了她的养老金缴款记录。

屏幕显示,她已为养老金账户连续缴款85个月。她又指了一下最近去社保局打印的一份记录,上面显示,她仅连续缴款35个月。王小姐笑了出来。

王小姐说:“如果你问十个工人,有九个人都搞不明白这些表格上写的是什么。”不久前发生了中国数十年来规模最大的一场罢工,王小姐是参与此次罢工的4万名工人中的一员。

裕元工业(集团)有限公司(Yue Yuen Industrial,简称裕元集团)的工人表示,该企业多年未给他们足额缴纳养老金。裕元集团在高埗镇拥有一座大型工厂,为耐克(Nike)和阿迪达斯(Adidas)生产运动鞋。

在抗议活动持续了11天之后,东莞市政府的表态使这些工人罕见地取得了一次胜利。东莞市政府表示,裕元集团应基于较高的薪资基数计算缴款金额。裕元集团估计,在同意基于包括加班费在内的总工资计算养老金缴款额之后,仅今年就需额外支付3100万美元。

此次罢工将裕元集团置于聚光灯下。该公司是高埗镇的第一用工大户——高埗镇和其他多个乡镇一起组成了东莞的制造业中心区。但工人、劳工活动人士以及工厂经理指出,养老金缴纳不足的情况,在被誉为世界工厂的中国南部珠三角地区普遍存在。

地方政府允许企业的缴款金额低于应缴标准,因为他们害怕企业离开当地,特别是鉴于企业每年都面临幅度达到两位数的工人工资增长。

裕元集团的一名工人表示:“政府一直都是睁一只眼闭一只眼。政府不希望让企业背上太重的负担,因为政府希望吸引海外投资。”

1997年,中国引入了全国养老保险制度,雇主和员工都必须缴款。企业应按员工总薪资的一定百分比缴款,但很多企业采用的是不包括加班工资的较低基数。工厂工人通过加班常常能够挣到数倍于最低工资的收入。

劳工活动人士张治儒曾因帮助裕元集团的工人被警方拘押。他表示,政府允许企业不足额缴纳养老金,只要企业的计算基数高于最低工资即可。

工厂经理们表示,这种做法非常普遍。一位经理指出,东莞市只要求他所在的公司为55%的工人缴纳养老金,并补充称:“计算缴款金额的基数本应从2012年的1813元人民币提高至2138元人民币(合342美元)。但绝大多数企业仍然使用较低的基数,而东莞社保局对此一直默许。”

阿迪达斯表示,裕元集团的缴款“符合他们与东莞政府早前达成的一项协议”。裕元集团不承认自身违反了任何法律规定。在被问及政府与企业就缴款金额达成的协议时,一名裕元集团的发言人表示,这是一种“非常普遍的做法”。

张治儒称:“裕元集团让珠三角地区的地方政府感到非常头痛。你能如何解决养老金问题呢?”

养老金问题此前从未引发严重如裕元集团事件的动荡。一个原因是,工人不愿缴纳养老金,因为当他们去别的城市时,养老金的转移非常困难——考虑到劳动力高度流动的特点,这是一个大问题。

中国人力资源和社会保障部的顾问郑秉文表示,在某些情况下,当工人跨地区流动时,流入地的政府必须为无法转移的那一部分养老金提供补贴,这使其不愿接受养老金账户转入。

北京大学(Peking University)人口研究所(Institute of Population Research)教授穆光宗表示:“目前社保系统是碎片化的。就好像北京的地铁系统一样,线路之间衔接得不好,使得换乘非常麻烦。”

在一家靠近裕元集团工厂的咖啡厅里,一位二十出头的家具厂工人表示,很多年轻工人并不为养老金而担心。“我不是很关心养老金问题,因为我真的很年轻。我不会一辈子都待在一间工厂里的。”

他的一位朋友插话表示,“绝大多数年轻工人都是这么想的,所以在裕元集团才会无人查看他们的养老金”,但现在越来越多的工人开始注意这个问题了。他说,自己的一些工友最近也发现了类似问题,但他们不愿发起罢工,因为担心可能因此遭到解雇。

王小姐说:“自从裕元集团事件发生以来,很多人都去社保局打印了他们的养老金缴款记录。我等候了一个小时才打印了自己的记录。而在正常情况下,根本不会有人排队。”

朱莉(Julie Zhu)补充报道

译者/马拉

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