'Lost' staff prompt a headache

Updated: 2012-02-04 07:48

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)

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 'Lost' staff prompt a headache

Recruiters sitting idle in Guangzhou, Guangdong province as fewer people apply for jobs. Businesses in the province are having difficulty in finding enough workers following China's Lunar New Year holiday. Provided to China Daily

Many employees haven't returned to work after the nation's holiday for New Year

GUANGZHOU - It took nearly 20 minutes for Ruan Ruyi to get lunch at a fast food restaurant in downtown Guangzhou on Friday.

"It took less than five minutes to have a meal previously. But now it seems much slower because there are fewer waiters at the restaurant," said Ruan, 32, a white-collar worker in the capital city of South China's Guangdong province.

At the Yonghe King restaurant in downtown Tianhe district, the three waiters on duty were busy serving meals to customers.

"Many workers have not returned after the Spring Festival. The shortage of waiters has affected our business," said the restaurant manager.

Many businesses in Guangdong, ranging from restaurants and toy makers to other manufacturing companies, have been hit by a labor shortage after the traditional Chinese Spring Festival.

As of Jan 30, some 3.2 million migrant workers had returned to Guangdong, according to sources at the provincial human resources and social security authorities on Thursday.

The authorities had predicted that as many as 9.8 million workers would return after the week-long holiday.

By Thursday, only 60 percent of the companies based in the province had resumed business after the festival, said the sources.

In Foshan, a major manufacturing city in the Pearl River Delta area, a growing number of factories were still affected by the labor shortage, although the overall demand for migrant workers has fallen this year.

The local labor authorities forecast that the city needs 200,000 more workers this year, but at least 85,000 workers have still not returned after the festival.

"Some migrant workers have not returned because they have better job options in their hometowns, which offer wages almost as high as those in the Pearl River Delta," said Zhang Baoying, director of Guangzhou Human Resources Market Center.

Ma Xiujuan, a migrant worker from Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, plans to go home to look for a job after visiting a job fair in Guangzhou on Tuesday.

"Most companies here offer a salary of between 2,000 yuan ($317) and 3,000 yuan a month, which is even lower than those offered in my hometown," she said.

"Factories in the delta area are expected to attract more workers by raising wages," said Peng Peng, a senior researcher with Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences.

Sources with the Guangdong human resources and social security authorities said the minimum wage in the province will be raised by 13 percent this year.

"But raising wages is far from enough to keep more workers. Authorities should introduce more measures to improve the welfare of migrant workers and promote equal treatment in education, healthcare and housing," Peng said.

He mainly attributed the labor shortage in the delta area to sluggish profits and industrial adjustment.

"Many businesses, especially small- and medium-sized companies dare not raise the wages because of rising production costs and slower business growth," said Peng.

The profits of Chinese industrial companies increased at a slower pace in 2011 as the European debt crisis threatened the nation's exports, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on its website on Friday.

Net profits for the year only rose by 25.4 percent year-on-year from 2010 to 5.45 trillion yuan, the NBS said. The growth rate rebounded from 24.4 percent in the first 11 months of last year.

But it marked a gradual downshift from growth of 32 percent year-on-year seen during the first quarter, 28.7 percent during the first half, and 27 percent in the first three quarters.

The authorities have introduced a series of measures to ensure funding for key investment and to boost credit in the economy, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses, to help sustain growth.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/04/2012 page9)