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January 6, 2010

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Spring Fest creates early ayi shortage

WITH ayis heading home for family reunions in the Spring Festival, which falls on February 14, many Shanghai householders are struggling to find domestic helpers.

"I regret I have dismissed a bad-performance ayi two weeks ago," said Zhou Xingguang, a local resident.

"It now seems impossible for me to find anyone before the end of the Spring Festival holiday," she said.

The annual shortage for maids at the end of Chinese Lunar New Year came about one month earlier than past year's.

"This year's Lunar New Year is about 20 days later than last year's," said Li Rong, general manger of Laibang Household Service Co Ltd.

"Dozens of non-local ayis in my company still started to leave the city at the end of last year. No new ones are coming into the city."

Compared with hourly ayis, home-stay maids are in bigger shortage because most home-stay ayis have no local residence and fear that train tickets will be in short supply near the Spring Festival.

Local household-service companies are working to address the shortage by asking locals to share ayi and increasing ayi's salary and bonus to keep them in the city during the holiday.

The company offered a good nanny for newborns nearly 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) in salary and bonus next month. But few took up the offer.


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