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February 10, 2010

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Disgruntled migrant workers set to quit manufacturing hub

MORE than 20 percent of migrant workers in Dongguan, a major manufacturing hub in southern China's Guangdong Province, will not return to work after the upcoming Spring Festival, according to a new survey.

"Unsound employment conditions, including a common practice of delayed payments" are some of the reasons, while 21 percent of migrant workers polled don't want to return to Dongguan, once regarded as one of the world's largest manufacturing bases, the survey by the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily said.

About 95 migrant workers, aged between 18 and 40, most of them from the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, were interviewed for the survey conducted this month.

Up to 90 percent of the workers hoped their salaries would increase after the Chinese New Year, which falls on Sunday.

"I seldom send money to my parents. It is hard for me to afford such high living expenses in Dongguan," a migrant worker surnamed Huang told interviewers.

Yang Fushou, a member of the Dongguan political consultative conference, has urged the local government to increase the minimum salary of the workers from 770 yuan (US$112.80) to 1,000 yuan per month.

"They left their homes to make a better living here. We have to respect their needs," Yang said.

Yang, who is also the general manager of a Dongguan-based factory making children's products, said he found it difficult to hire qualified workers last year even though his company had doubled salaries.

"A worker told me he was once robbed on a street shortly after he got his salary, but the police did not help him," he said, urging the government and local companies to offer more incentives for migrant workers.

"For example, the government should give workers' children equal rights as the locals when it comes to education," Yang said.

Zheng Xiaoqiong, a migrant worker deputy to the Guangdong provincial legislature, attributed the shortage of migrant workers to "worsened working and living conditions" in the Pearl River Delta region.

Li Huiqin, Party secretary of Houjie township of Dongguan, said the government would organize a series of job fairs in provinces and regions that export labor services this year to help local companies find more workers.


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