WAGE rows have become the bulk of labour disputes in Tianjin, according to official media reports. Eighty per cent of 38 disputes recently settled by the Hebei All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) related to workers' salaries, a 30 per cent increase over the same period last year. Quoting sources from the labour dispute mediation committee of the Hebei ACFTU, the Tianjin Daily said many of these cases were in privatised state-owned enterprises where new owners failed to distinguish new labour-capital relationships from the old ones. Many owners of state-transformed businesses had refused to sign contracts with their employees, whose salaries were often many times lower than their bosses, the sources were quoted as saying. Many disputes were also triggered when the bosses tried to replace original employees with relatives and friends, the newspaper reported. 'Workers interests have not been reasonably protected,' it said. Another source of conflict was the welfare of workers. Collective action was sometimes taken by retired workers who had not received the full amount of their pension fund. Some joint ventures had also failed to provide fair employment terms for workers, union sources said. 'According to the analysis of five cases, these ventures did not sign contracts with workers,' they said. Workloads were heavy, salaries were low and there was no medical insurance or old-age protection. These factors led to poor labour relations.