Monday, 16 April 2007

Chinese students and local labour laws

In this blog we occasionally post on how, why and where Chinese students should study, making comparisons across country and University. See the sidebar for a series of links.

One of the concerns I have and I am sure Chinese students have when thinking of studying in the UK is cost. We have covered this HERE.

One issue we have not discussed is that once in the UK, students can offset the approximate £10,000 fees and £7,000 living costs (and travel) by taking temporary employment in the UK. With a minimum wage of over £5 an hour and higher rates available it is at least possible to offset some of the costs. Again, for Chinese students it is wise to head for the large cities that have a larger Chinese community and ample job opportunities in the formal and informal sector.

In contrast this post from China Economic Review editors highlights the difficulties faced by students in China.

Students not protected

Students in Guangdong province that have to work to support themselves are not protected by labor laws.

New legislation that kicked in earlier this year sets minimum wages for part-time workers at a less-than-princely US$0.95 or RMB7.5 per hour but, as it turns out, these rules can be really more like guidelines or suggestions as far as students as concerned. Reporters from a local newspaper in Guangzhou, the Kuai Xin Bao, reported in March that McDonald’s and Yum! Brands (owner of Pizza Hut and KFC) pay their part-time student employees about US$0.52 or RMB4 per hour.

The scoop prompted much discussion and comments of abuse while the companies maintained they had done nothing legally wrong.

As it turns out, they were right. The labor protection bureau in Guangdong cleared them last week, Forbes reported. Provincial officials declared that the relationship between employer and student worker is not a formal working relationship.

Let’s see. One imagines that said student must have to show up on time. He or she is probably expected to work while at the restaurant that employs him. He or she supposedly receives a salary for his or her work. Yup, can’t see how that is an official working relationship. The students in question are probably flipping burgers in between long study sessions because it’s fun, a distraction from physics, engineering or arts.

At the end of the day, most of these guys don’t need the work, not really. They put on those stylish red KFC caps because they look cool. They could just as easily finance their silly hobbies like the (very) occasional night on the town, eating and sleeping under a roof through myriad other activities like… well… hang on… something will come to me.

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