China takes steps to help millions of jobless migrant workers 2008-12-18 20:01:14   Print

    ZHENGZHOU, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Nineteen-year-old Wang Pan used to work in an electronics factory in Dongguan City, a major export hub in Guangdong Province. Now she is jobless.

    The small enterprise was on the verge of closure and cut jobs in November amid China's export slump. Wang was forced to return home to live with her parents in the Henan province, a major source of migrant labor.

    "In previous years, I would not stop working until the Spring Festival in January. This year I had to come back early," Wang said while chatting with neighbors on a village road.

    "I am happy to reunite with my family, but I am more worried about my job next year. It is cold and I'm bored at home."

    Wang is one of the many laid-off migrant rural workers who flocked back to their rural homes as the financial crisis batters China's most industrialized provinces.

    In Xinyang City, Henan Province, there are about 2.3 million migrant rural workers. Typically, the majority come home days before the nationwide holiday called the Spring Festival. This year, one month before the festival, daily passenger flow at the city's bus station was 80 percent higher than the same period lastyear, said Huang Guomin, manager of Xinyang Transportation Group.

    "Already migration flows are reversing. In previous years, the month before Spring Festival, migrant workers carried rice, pork and daily necessities to the Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River delta, the most developed regions in China. Now this year, we are seeing people come back early from these areas," he said.

    Yin Weimin, Human Resources and Social Security Minister, said even more migrant workers are expected to return to their hometowns ahead of the Spring Festival. He did not reveal the exact number.

    "We should focus on how to handle the issue," Yin said.

    Especially since it impacts so many people. Chinese migrant workers send part of their salaries home to support their families. That money makes up a large part of their hometowns' gross domestic product.

    It is why local governments nationwide are trying to help migrant workers find jobs.

    "We must never lose sight of the impact these economic difficulties will have on the long-term needs of migrant workers, "said Liu Tao, deputy head of Henan Provincial Labor and Social Security Department.

    "The government is trying to encourage migrant workers to start their own business. Up to now, 560,000 migrant workers in Henan have created more than 110,000 enterprises, providing jobs for 2.2million people," he said.

    "We will also introduce more training and advice to help the jobless find work," he said. "The training will focus on farming, breeding fish and poultry raising."

    His counterparts in the neighboring Hebei Province are also thinking about how to help its 410,000 migrant workers who have returned home earlier than normal.

    For example, they were working towards preferential polices to help migrant workers gain capital, skills and land.

    "We increased loans from 20,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan for people willing and qualified to start businesses," said Zhang Bing, an official with the Hebei Labor and Social Security Department.

    In the provinces of Hubei, Yunnan, Jiangxi and Anhui, local governments held job fairs for recently returned migrant workers.

    On Tuesday, more than 110 enterprises held a job fair in Kunming City, capital of the southwestern Yunnan Province. More than 1,000jobs were available for migrant workers.

    "We are making polices to help you overcome the current difficulties," read an official letter given to each job hunter atthe fair. "Life will be better. Be confident."

    As for Wang Pan, she was waiting for a phone call from DongguanCity.

    "I gave my cell phone number to the factory. I hope the boss will hire me again, but before the Spring Festival, it seems impossible," she said.

Editor: Du
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