Trying to Live on 25 Cents an Hour.
 The U.S. Companies Say the Workers
Do Just Fine. 

But can you really live on the 25 cent an hour wages that the U.S. contractors pay in China—which come to $15 for a 6-day workweek or $65 a month? 

The cost of living in China is, of course, just a fraction of what it is in the U.S., and U.S. companies like Wal-Mart and Nike assure the American people that they pay fair and adequate wages in China, which, they add, are very competitive given the low cost of living there.
 But Nike, Wal-Mart and the other U.S. companies are wrong, and they are deliberately misleading the U.S. people.In China, it costs $12.05 a month to provide milk for a six-month-old infant.So how can anyone survive on just $65 a month in wages?The cost for one child's milk amounts to 19 percent of the month's wages.

 We gathered information on the cost of living for a lower middle class family in Shenzhen City in southern China—where many of the assembly factories exporting goods to the U.S. are located.

Monthly Expenses in Shenzhen:

Rent for a 3-bedroom Apartment:1100 rmb$132.53
(400-500 square feet)

 Utilities (water and electricity)400 rmb$48.19

 Phone service100 rmb$12.05

(a wireless phone costs $36.14-$48.19/month)

 Food for 3 people600 rmb$72.29

(husband, wife, six-month old child)

 Monthly Cost of raising a 6-month old child500-700 rmb$ 60.21 - 84.34

(including milk for 100 rmb/month--$12.05

and diapers for 20 rmb--$2.41 per day)

 Cooking oil50 rmb$6.02

 Fuel for cooking60 rmb$7.23

Subtotal:$ 350.59/month

(Note: Many people choose to eat out, since it is cheaper than preparing food at home.For example, to prepare lunch at home for three people can cost 25 to 35 rmb--$3.01 to $4.22, or about $1.20 each.A quick, cheap lunch of noodles can be purchased from a vendor for 5 to 10 rmb, as little as 60 cents.)

If you add up even just these common expenses, it already amounts to $350.59, which is more than five times the wage of a typical factory worker who is producing goods for the U.S. companies. 

·<>What about bus fare, which costs 3 rmb, or 36 cents for a typical half-hour trip?Round trip bus fare five days a week would cost 120 rmb, or $14.46 U.S. 

·<>A visit to the doctor costs between 60 and 80 rmb, or $7.23 to $9.64 

·<>Men's new shoes cost 200 rmb, $24.10 U.S. 

·<>The simplest man's t-shirt costs 20 to 30 rmb, or $2.41 to $3.61. 

·<>A cheap, plain two-piece woman's outfit costs 100 to 150 rmb, or $12.05 to $18.07 U.S. 

·<>Going out for a traditional dim sum holiday meal at a Chinese restaurant would cost 30 to 40 rmb per person, or $3.61 to $4.82.

Food is cheap at the local market  

Rice10 cents per pound
Vegetables14 cents per pound 

Meat33-55 cents per pound 

Fish22-44 cents per pound 

A whole chicken$2.41 

 Workers locked in factories in China producing goods for the largest and most profitable U.S. multinational companies are barely able to eke out an existence, living hand to mouth and surviving only because they are crowded into tiny dorm rooms with 12 other people and eating three dismal company meals a day.Dorm accommodations and food expenses are deducted from a worker's gross wage.To share a bunk bed in a crowded dorm room costs about 305 rmb per month, or $36.75 U.S.Meal coupons cost 3 to 9 rmb per day, or between 36 cents and $1.08.For the month, this would average $22.00 U.S.

A factory worker's wages are merely wages of survival and the job leads to a dead end, without advancement or rights.

<< BACK    |    NEXT >>