Young migrant workers

Updated: 2011-02-22 07:57

(China Daily)

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The integration of the 100 million or so second or new-generation of migrant workers in the urban areas will contribute not just to the country's urbanization but also to the social stability it needs for further economic growth and social development.

A survey by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions reveals that the average income of this group of migrant workers is 1,747 yuan ($266), just half that of urban workers. Sixty percent of them are working in foreign-funded manufacturing factories, and most of them are in the eastern coastal areas.

Different from their parents, 55.1 percent of whom work far away from their home villages in order to be the breadwinner for their families, many of the younger generation are working to seek opportunities for a better career and development.

They are not farmers turned workers as their parents were. They mostly grow up where their parents work and are urban dwellers, except for the fact they are not registered as urban residents. Their parents will in all likelihood finally return to their home villages to spend their remaining years when they are done with their urban jobs. These young workers were mostly born in cities or brought out of the countryside by their parents when they were still babies. Most of them do not have any experience farming in the fields. It is impossible and unimaginable that they will return to their home villages in their twilight years.

However, they do not get the same social welfare as their urban counterparts do. More than 15 percent of them do not sign labor contracts with their employers, a rate much higher than their urban counterparts. And the social security they are entitled to is also less than that of urban workers.

To certain extent, their future will have an impact on that of the country. If they are left in the state they are in now in the near future, their increasing discontent with their working and living conditions will quite probably turn them into a source of social instability and will also slow the country's urbanization.

So a negotiating mechanism needs to be established in non-public, small and medium sized enterprises where this group of migrant workers is relatively concentrated so that they will be able to make more money. Central government policies should be better implemented to further extend social security to these people and efforts should be made to improve their living conditions.

If possible, local governments should create conditions for those qualified to register as urban residents, so they can enjoy the same social welfare as other urban residents.

While they are better educated than their parents, their lack of professional skills hinders their further career development. So, if possible, they should be given professional training to make them adaptable to a wider range of work.

They should be integrated into the cities where they work as quickly as possible.

(China Daily 02/22/2011 page8)


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