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February 10, 2011

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Firms provide incentives to survive annual labor shortage

COMPANIES in Shanghai have offered various incentives to migrant workers this year in a bid to weather the annual labor shortage after the Spring Festival holiday.

Some firms sent buses to bring back migrant workers. Others promised workers commissions for bringing back fellow villagers.

On Monday, more than 400 buses set out from Shanghai to provinces such as Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Hubei to bring migrant workers back to the city. Many of the buses were rented by companies worried that their migrant workers would not return.

Feng Lijuan, chief human resources analyst with 51job, a Nasdaq-listed headhunting firm, told Shanghai Daily yesterday the annual labor shortage in the city is not as bad this year compared to other years because of such incentives.

"The service and logistics industries are doing well as more than half of their workers have returned already," Feng said.

However, Zhao Jiande, an official with the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said migrant workers who want to change jobs are in no hurry to return to Shanghai, as "it's easy to find jobs now as the economy has recovered from the global financial crisis."

Though a large number of migrant workers are expected to return to the city next week and look for new jobs after the Lantern Festival, the labor shortage is felt most acutely in the construction and food and beverage industries. The Lantern Festival, which falls on February 17 this year, marks the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The huge demand by local construction sites are not likely to be met, and the shortage of some technical positions will be more obvious, the Shanghai Construction Industry Management Office said.

Feng said restaurants usually pay low wages to wait staff, usually less than 2,000 yuan (US$303) a month, which is why they have trouble retaining employees.

Chen Weijie, a senior manager with China International Intellech Corporation, said soaring living costs in Shanghai is another cause for the labor shortage.


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