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With crucial wage negotiations under way amid persistent strikes and declining commodity prices, South African mining has become symbolic of everything going wrong in the country. So would the latest mining production figures give any reason to hope?
Indian newspapers paint a gloomy picture of the state of the nation. They point to the 5 percentage-point drop over the last five years in the country’s once-feted economic growth rate. They bemoan the depressed stock market which has delivered negative returns over the last five years. And they point to the stagnant incomes of their readers who are, generally, white-collar workers and businessmen.
What the newspapers don’t do is discuss the remarkable surge over the last five years in the fortunes of less privileged workers – wages for blue-collar workers have been growing at a staggering 15 per cent or more annually.
It is the second day of a bandh, a general strike in India triggered by rising prices and economic reforms that are seen as “anti-labour”.
We are all China bulls now.
So the stock markets appeared to be saying for the past few months. The Chinese government released a slew of positive data in January — ranging from strong exports in December to faster GDP growth in the fourth quarter to the news on the weekend that industrial profits were up 17 per cent.
But Diana Choyleva, a persistent bear on China at Lombard Street Research, wants none of it and is now trying to take away the punch ladle just as the party was getting started.
The battle over factory pay in Indonesia is intensifying, with vocal local trade unions joining hands with a US non-governmental organisation to pressure Nike suppliers into paying minimum wages.
A yawning gap is opening up between employers, who argue that hefty minimum wage increases are destroying their profitability, and trade unions, who argue that wages must rise further and employment conditions be improved.
The Thai government, known for its string of populist policies including rice and fuel subsidies, is delighting working class voters (those with a job, anyway) with the introduction of a national minimum wage, which kicked in on January 1.
The policy has already triggered fierce criticism in business circles and reports of job losses, particularly in rural provinces. Yet, some experts argue that despite short term pain, a hefty national minimum wage increase will raise both living standards and productivity.
But not at the top. Over the last decade, senior salaries in EMs have caught up with those in the west, and in many cases surpassed them, according to a report by management consultancy Hay Group.
The threat to stability in the Arab world posed by youth unemployment is such that governments old and new must urgently address the worsening economic environment. If a solution is not found soon, the whole region risks instability or even secondary revolutions.
Idris Jala, the Malaysian minister in charge of economic development, tells the FT’s Sarah Mishkin how his department is seeking to lift Malaysia out of the so called middle income trap through economic and labour market reform
Happy labour day, labourers in Malaysia. On Tuesday the country got its first ever minimum wage, part of prime minister Najib Razak’s ambitious plans to make the country work smarter, not just harder, and double per capita income by 2020.
Alexander Lukashenko wants average salaries in Belarus to go up – and what the authoritarian leader wants, he usually gets, which is likely to mean more trouble for the ex-Soviet republic’s battered economy.
“What is the average salary of $500? This is quite a low level – we should get higher. And this is a task for everybody,” Lukashenko told local officials this week, according to the local press.
Hon Hai has announced it is raising the base salary of its 1m-plus workers by between 16 to 25 per cent, the first major pay hike since it doubled pay for operators and line managers in 2010 following a tragic series of suicides at its plants.
With Hon Hai, the Foxconn parent, and other Apple suppliers’ plants currently undergoing an audit by the Fair Labour Association, that’s good news, isn’t it? Not so for investors, according to HSBC head of Taiwan research Jenny Lai.
But not so in Asia. As the regional economy remains resilient, employers will continue to hire, and the only question for executives and other white-collar staff , especially in China, is how much their salaries will rise, says Hays, the recruitment agency.