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As the fruit of marathon talks, the largest collective contract in the country has raised the minimum wages for about 450,000 laborers in the catering sector in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, by 30 percent, excluding payment for extra working hour and other subsidies.
The significance of these pay-rise negotiations can never be overestimated.
The negotiations bode well, not just for workers in the catering industry but also for those in other industries nationwide, by sending the message that negotiation can be an effective way for workers to protect their interests and rights.
Also, as the negotiations were led by the local trade union, it suggests that there is a great deal that a trade union can do for workers. In addition, it blazes the trail for trade unions at all levels in their efforts to become the guardians of workers.
That all the restaurants in the city had the capability to pay the wage rise was the prerequisite for the success of the negotiations. And the negotiators made it their target not just to increase income for catering workers but also create conditions for the prosperous development of the industry.
The negotiators from the trade union spent two years preparing for the talks, which lasted about 50 days. They conducted investigations into more than 100 restaurants and collected more than 600 questionnaires from both restaurant owners and laborers.
As a result, they knew where the bottom lines were when they pushed for more benefits for workers and they were also clear that a successful conclusion would also benefit restaurants owners by solving the seasonal labor shortage problem, which had plagued the industry for years.
The contract signed by the trade union and representatives of the restaurants has made it clear that the income of workers will steadily increase annually, and the minimum wage will increase in line with rises in the city's average income.
The contract also stipulates that restaurants must consult with trade unions and workers if they need workers to work extra hours beyond 40 hours a week. And restaurants must provide workers with work clothes, free meals, lodgings and a free medical checkup once a year.
It is beyond doubt that the cost of labor will rise considerably, but most restaurants will be able to keep a stable labor force, which will make it possible for them to improve their efficiency and raise their service level.