Low pay sends judges pack­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI YANG in Shang­hai

Shang­hai needs to raise the salary of judges to stop so many from quit­ting, said a mem­ber of the city’s top po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sory body.

In the past five years, nearly 500 judges have quit, most of them be­tween 40 and 50 years old, and the trend shows lit­tle abate­ment.

“Judge is a ‘ lonely’ pro­fes­sion, and the last guar­an­tee of legal fair­ness,” said Qiu Suo, a mem­ber of Shang­hai peo­ple’s po­lit­i­cal con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence and a lawyer, at an an­nual meet­ing of the con­fer­ence. “This pro­fes­sion de­serves re­spect from the so­ci­ety and a de­cent in­come.”

Shang­hai’s judges are paid by the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment and their pay is based on civil ser­vice stan­dards. “The judges should be paid at least 1.5 times that of the civil ser­vants on av­er­age to en­sure they are not lured by bribes and have a com­fort­able life,” Qiu sug­gested.

China’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment just raised civil ser­vants’ salaries to help them pay for the newly added pen­sion in­sur­ance. Pre­vi­ously, they didn’t have to pay for their own pen­sion in­sur­ance.

Civil ser­vants have the best in hous­ing, med­i­cal care and school­ing for their chil­dren, and even have op­por­tu­ni­ties to seek il­le­gal prof­its from their power. That’s why few of­fi­cials quit their jobs even if their salaries have not surged for years. But judges do not have so much in­vis­i­ble in­come.

In Shang­hai, each judge presided over an av­er­age of 131 cases in 2013, 2.25 times the na­tional av­er­age, and the work load rose to 156 cases last year.

Qiu Suo said re­cruit­ment of mid­dle-aged judges is popular among legal and fi­nan­cial agen­cies. Their in­come may rise sev­eral times if they change jobs. “It takes many years to cul­ti­vate a good judge out of many can­di­dates, and it is re­ally a big pity that the court loses them so eas­ily,” Qiu said. “They de­serve a bet­ter pay­ment given their heavy work­load, re­spon­si­bil­ity and im­por­tant role in so­cial life.”

Qiu’s re­search shows judges’ salaries in the United States are about 5 times to 6.5 times higher than the av­er­age in­come of com­mon civil ser­vants, and 6.5 to 13 times higher in the UK.

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