Letter from China – No: 1

I have just finished my first week here at the Mandarin language school in Haikou, the capital of the Hainan Island.
I have glimpsed at the striking protesters in Helsinki and read Sipila’s speech and Liikanen’s comments that the government needs to treat workers in a fairer manner. I assume that his comments referred to the large number of lower paid working people. My wife has also made the same comments in our daily Skype telephonic discussions.
It got me thinking seriously about this question because here workers earn in a month (100€) what a shop worker and young nurse earn in a day. And there is nothing really nice about the lives of ordinary folk here. I visited the covered market today – bloody pig halves and their trotters welcome you at the entrance and huge piles of gasping fish lay on marble tops on the other side, ready to be operated upon with heavy sharp cutters.
Yes, Liikanen is right this time round and he is a brave man to speak up! There can be no doubt that double overtime pay and the other extras are not from this world anymore and should be abolished. We need restaurants and bars to be open on weekends and public holidays like the rest of the world. They should not be closed because workers cost too much.
The solutions are obvious and should be placed on employers and employees in a more equal manner:
1. Employers should gross up their worker’s pay by a sensible weekly amount for those that are willing to work a certain number of these special days. The rest shall keep their normal weekly rate. It will probably lead to a 5% to 10% extra cost for those diligent folk depending on how many special days they are committed to work.
2. All working weeks should be increased to 8,5 hours – that will kill nobody. People here in China work many more hours and so do a lot of bosses, freelancers and entrepreneurs in Finland and elsewhere in the Western world.
3. SME’s should have a big employment cost break for 2 years for every unemployed person that is employed permanently. The catch being that there must be 10 other full time employees for every newly employed person in companies with more than 20 full time staff and fir every 3 for smaller companies. Big companies don’t need any breaks because the wage costs are much smaller relative to turnover.
4. All those over 40 years with an income from wages, pensions, dividends or capital gains in excess of 5000€ a month should pay an extra tax for the next 2 years.
The boys at EK need to be told in a strict way that they cannot have their cake and eat it. They, like the trade unions have become far too officious. As the Chinese saying goes – “Masters also need to take their own medicine.”

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