Posts tagged ‘migrant workers’

08/05/2015

For returning migrant workers, a changed and desolate homeland|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

As the first wave of Chinese migrant workers return to live in their hometowns, they may find that life has changed dramatically from when they first left, a PhD student in Shanghai University revealed in his journal published in The Paper.

For returning migrant workers, a changed and desolate homeland

Rural areas tend to evoke empty villages where the working population has left, but the fact is that more and more middle-aged migrant workers are coming back home in recent years, said Wang Leiguang, a native of Luotian county of Hubei province who impressed readers with his “Journal of returning to hometown” during the Spring Festival.

Ever since China’s reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, waves of farmers left their land and worked in cities, where they could enjoy higher incomes but faced various disadvantages.

After working in cities for decades, they feel tired and no longer welcome in the city. Most of them have built new houses in their hometowns and have some savings. More importantly, they have to look after their grandchildren, as Wang elaborated in his article.

The year-on-year growth rate in the number of migrant workers has been declining since 2010, said a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics in late April. Since 2004, China has encountered a continuous labor shortage and many migrant workers aged above 50 have returned to their hometowns, as Wang has noticed in his hometown, Luotian.

However, returning home doesn’t mean a return to farming. Since most young laborers moved to the cities, the remote farmlands have become wastelands no one wants to reclaim. Meanwhile machines have replaced manual work in the remaining farms. Even so, many don’t really care about the harvest and some even give up their land.

City life has apparently estranged them from the farmland.

Meanwhile, the pace of urbanization in China during the past 25 years has seen the decline of many villages. As people have drifted away to urban areas, the countryside has become stripped of community and culture.

Unlike twenty years ago when villagers could enjoy various activities such as temple fairs, outdoor movies and opera performances, there are almost no cultural activities these days, as rural people left for cities to find better-paid jobs. When those migrant workers return, they find that villagers have less contact with each other, even between neighbors. Most of them stay at home watching TV.

Rural life is lonely and dull. Wang described the common sight of an old man or woman sitting in the sun at the gate every day, greeting acquaintances when they pass by, as if waiting for death to come.

Increasing social bonds may be a solution to fight the alienation in the countryside, Wang suggested. He found that villagers communicated more and felt happier during their efforts to build a road.

Zhou Jinming, an agricultural official with the Yulin government of Shaanxi province, suggested that the government should focus on supporting large villages by improving conditions, such as setting up libraries and clinics.

via For returning migrant workers, a changed and desolate homeland|Society|chinadaily.com.cn.

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26/01/2015

1.39 million Chinese receive legal assistance – Xinhua | English.news.cn

The Chinese government provided free legal aid services for nearly 1.39 million people in 2014 to help them safeguard their rights, the Economic Daily reported on Monday.

More than one-third of them are migrant workers who are vulnerable to job dismissal and withheld wages and know little about the legal system, the report said, quoting the Ministry of Justice.

The ministry’s statistics showed that about 10 percent more migrant workers than last year said they would like to seek legal assistance if their rights are violated.

Legal service centers have been springing up in streets, communities and prisons across China. The number of new legal service centers in 2014 totaled 70,000, the ministry said. The country will guide more legal service agencies to provide assistance to suspects and defendants in prisons.

It also promised to lower the eligibility standard for people to receive legal assistance and expand services for military personnel.

via 1.39 million Chinese receive legal assistance – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

19/11/2014

China’s Aging Migrant Workers – Businessweek

China’s migrant worker population is getting bigger and older and includes more families living together, a government report released today shows.

A Chinese migrant worker labors at the construction site of a real estate project in Jiujiang city, east Chinas Jiangxi province on March 3, 2014.

With 245 million migrant workers as of the end of 2013, China’s liudong renkou, or floating population, now amounts to one-sixth of all Chinese. That’s up from 236 million  a year earlier, says the study, released on Nov. 18 by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

With China’s entire population aging, it’s no surprise that its migrants are getting older, too. The report says that the average age of migrant workers has gone from 33.1 years old in 2011 to 33.7 at the end of last year. And they are more likely to move with their families: The number of migrant worker parents bringing their children with them (6- to 15-year-olds) has risen to 62.5 percent, up 5.2 percentage points from 2011.

That’s good news. China has 61 million “left-behind children”, the offspring of migrant workers who are separated from their parents and still living in the countryside, according to some estimates. They make up more than one in five of all youth in China and often suffer from psychological problems, including juvenile delinquency, and are prone to high rates of dropping out of school.

The jump in children accompanying their worker parents may suggest that life for migrant families may be slowly starting to improve. China’s leaders have made urbanization a top goal and aim to lift the proportion of people living in cities from just over 53.7 percent now to 60 percent by 2020.

To encourage that, China’s economic planners announced last November that they will start to allow migrants to get more access to urban benefits including pensions, health care, and crucially education for their children. Progress on the complicated and expensive reforms, however, has been limited.

via China’s Aging Migrant Workers – Businessweek.

29/10/2014

China’s Jobs Picture Not As Rosy As It Looks – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s Premier, Li Keqiang, has said repeatedly how happy he is with the strength of the country’s job market, despite a slowing economy. That’s the main reason he sees little need to ease policy aggressively to spur growth, he says.

Officials attribute low unemployment to a drop in the working-age population, along with the development of the service sector, which is more labor-intensive than manufacturing.

But a deeper look into the government’s jobs data shows that the current employment situation is more worrisome than it appears. Across China’s cities, 10.82 million new jobs were created over the first nine months of the year, up 1.5% from the same period of 2013, according to official data released on Friday. That’s slowest rise in five years.

Migrant workers are normally the first to take the brunt of an economic slowdown, since more than one fifth of them work in the construction sector, which is highly sensitive to economic cycles. Employers also tend fire migrant workers first if business is bad rather than laying off urbanites with permanent resident status, economists have said.

“Over the past few years, especially after 2009, the government stepped up investment in infrastructure and property market. That has created many job opportunities for migrant workers,” said Li Shi, an economics professor at Beijing Normal University. “But now a sluggish property market has affected migrant workers.”

The global financial crisis cut China’s economic growth from double-digit rates to 6.6% in early 2009, and left some 200 million migrant laborers facing unemployment and a fraying safety net.

The government responded with a four trillion yuan ($650 billion) stimulus package that helped China rebound rapidly from the global downturn, but also resulted in a series of problems such as industrial overcapacity and environmental pollution.

This time around the economic situation is less dire, and the reaction has been more restrained. Since economic growth started to falter earlier this year, policy makers have contented themselves with a series of targeted easing measures like accelerated spending on infrastructure and special lending programs from the central bank. They have also brought in measures to spur mortgage lending and reduce financing costs and tax burdens for small firms.

via China’s Jobs Picture Not As Rosy As It Looks – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

11/09/2014

The Change in China’s Hukou Policy Is Slow to Help Migrant Families – Businessweek

On July 30, China’s State Council announced plans to abolish the old residence registration permit—or hukou—that distinguished rural from urban households. The move was long overdue.

Young Chinese children attend a kindergarten set up for migrant workers in Beijing

The hukou system was enacted in 1958 as away to limit movement between the countryside and cities. At that time, the Chinese Communist Party was explicitly anti-urban and antibusiness. After economic reform began in 1978, the hukou became increasingly anachronistic as millions of migrant workers left farms and villages for new jobs in factories and private companies in the cities. Yet they were penalized because, without local household registration papers, these migrants were denied access to public health care, education, and other social services.

The new system, however, will be only a partial fix. Discrepancies between rural and urban tax collection will gradually be phased out, but access to services will still be linked to location. While smaller cities may be willing to accept newly registered residents, the governments of China’s leading metropolises—including Beijing and Shanghai—are overburdened and still actively trying to discourage new residents (other than wealthy arrivals) from putting down roots.

via The Change in China’s Hukou Policy Is Slow to Help Migrant Families – Businessweek.

14/05/2014

China’s Young Migrant Workers Earn More, Send Less Home – Businessweek

China’s younger migrant workers are better educated, spend more, save less, and prefer living in China’s bigger cities. They make up close to one-half of the migrant workforce, according to a survey released Monday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

A migrant worker in Beijing

Those from the younger generation, born after 1980—or balinghou (literally, “80 after”)—number 125 million, or 46.6 percent of China’s 269 million migrant workers. One-third have a high school education or higher; that’s 19.2 percentage points more than the older generation, the survey shows.

Unlike their parents, they aren’t inclined to scrimp devotedly in order to send  hard-earned kuai back to the countryside. The average younger migrant worker remitted 12,802 yuan ($2,054) to a hometown in rural China; that’s about 30 percent less than older workers did.

via China’s Young Migrant Workers Earn More, Send Less Home – Businessweek.

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07/05/2014

In China’s Xinjiang, economic divide seen fuelling ethnic unrest | Reuters

Hundreds of migrant workers from distant corners of China pour daily into the Urumqi South railway station, their first waypoint on a journey carrying them to lucrative work in other parts of the far western Xinjiang region.

Uighur women stand next to a street to wait for a bus in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region May 1, 2014. REUTERS-Petar Kujundzic

Like the columns of police toting rifles and metal riot spears that weave between migrants resting on their luggage, the workers are a fixture at the station, which last week was targeted by a bomb and knife attack the government has blamed on religious extremists.

“We come this far because the wages are good,” Shi Hongjiang, 26, from the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, told Reuters outside the station. “Also, the Uighur population is small. There aren’t enough of them to do the work.”

Shi’s is a common refrain from migrant workers, whose experience finding low-skilled work is very different to that of the Muslim Uighur minority.

Employment discrimination, experts say, along with a demographic shift that many Uighurs feel is diluting their culture, is fuelling resentment that spills over into violent attacks directed at Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group.

The apparent suicide attack on the station, which killed one bystander, was the latest violence to hit Xinjiang, despite a pledge from China’s President Xi Jinping to rain “crushing blows against violent terrorist forces”.

via In China’s Xinjiang, economic divide seen fuelling ethnic unrest | Reuters.

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17/03/2014

China pushes forward urbanizing migrant workers – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China pledged increasing efforts to help migrant workers win urbanite status, removing restrictions in towns and lowering threshold in big cities, said a national plan unveiled on Sunday.

The country promised to help migrant workers from countryside to settle down in cities, by fully eliminating restriction of household registration in towns and small cities and gradually easing restrictions in medium-sized cities, according to the 2014-2020 urbanization plan released by the State Council, China’s Cabinet.

Reasonable conditions for settling in big cities will be set, while population in mega cities will remain to be strictly controlled, the plan said.

The plan also granted city services and public welfare to the migrants.

In China, cities with population between three million and five million are defined as big cities, while those above five million are mega cities.

via China pushes forward urbanizing migrant workers – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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23/02/2014

China’s Migrant Workers Lack High-End Skills – Businessweek

China is already facing the challenge of a shrinking labor force. Its working age population—16 to 59—declined by more than 2 million people, to about 920 million last year, compared with 2012. And while the total number of migrant workers is still increasing slowly, up 2.4 percent, to 269 million, last year, many lack needed skills. That’s despite the fact that wages keep rising, up about 14 percent, to around 2,600 yuan ($427) a month last year.

China's Migrant Workers Lack High-End Skills

“It is difficult to hire general workers, which reflects the limited supply of migrant workers. Despite China upgrading and restructuring its industrial base, there are difficulties in recruiting enough skilled technicians to work in these fields,” said Yang Zhiming, deputy minister of Human Resources and Social Security, at a press conference Thursday in Beijing, reported the Global Times.

China is aiming to shift its economy to higher-value-added industries and lessen its reliance on low-end, low-skill manufacturing of shoes, clothes, and toys, a process officials have dubbed tenglong huanniao, or “clearing the cage and changing the bird.” To meet the skills gap, the government will offer more training programs and educate at least 10 million migrants a year. Beijing intends to provide training by 2020 for the entire “new generation” of migrant workers, or those born after the 1980s, which now number about 100 million, according to Yang.

via China’s Migrant Workers Lack High-End Skills – Businessweek.

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24/01/2014

China retrieves $1.6 billion for migrant workers ahead of Lunar New Year | Reuters

China has recovered more than 10 billion yuan ($1.65 billion) of unpaid wages for its migrant workers in the last two months, officials said on Friday, underscoring a persistent problem that often leaves workers empty-handed before a key annual holiday.

Migrant construction workers gamble with cards after a shift at a construction site in Shanghai August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Aly Song

Many migrants only return home once a year for the lunar new year, which falls on January 31 this year. Gift-giving, including cash in red envelopes, is an important tradition, and theft spikes each year in the run-up to the holiday.

The campaign returned 10.9 billion yuan in unpaid wages to more than 1.5 million workers across China, Li Zhong, spokesman of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told a news conference.

via China retrieves $1.6 billion for migrant workers ahead of Lunar New Year | Reuters.

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