Last month’s horrifying rear-end collision on the Shanghai Metro saw 284 people hospitalised and while thankfully nobody died from the incident, many questions remain unanswered.
Dong Zhen, in an opinion piece on Shanghai Daily entitled “Better pay may reduce poaching of Metro staff”, says maybe shitty pay and the resultant brain drain is another cause for concern:
Shanghai has China’s largest and most developed Metro system and the network has boomed in the recent decade as the city sought to build infrastructure for the showcase Shanghai World Expo, and it’s still going full speed ahead. But in terms of salaries, including for core technical workers, Shanghai Metro workers are at the bottom, Metro management officials told Shanghai Daily.
Yin Wei, an official of the Metro Operation Co, said a local Metro dispatcher, with two to three years’ job experience, earns 3,000 (US$470) to 4,000 yuan (US$627) each month. A daily maintenance technician earns around the same.
“However, salaries for the same positions offered by Metro operators in some secondary cities or Metro-related manufacturing or engineering companies are at least double what we are able to pay,” Yin said.
The system employs 7,000-8,000 skilled people, including dispatchers, controllers, drivers, various kinds of engineers, technicians and technical support staff. Around half of those positions must be filled with new people each year; turnover is greatest among dispatchers and controllers, whose skills are needed in other systems, including railways.
This turnover and lack of retention of the key people has a clear impact on safety for the system that is known both for its frequently minor glitches land major troubles.
We also hope some serious investigations are being launched into Shanghai Casco Signal Ltd, the signals supplier for both the Shanghai Metro and the trains that went down in the recent Wenzhou high-speed rail crash.