CHINESE CITIES URGE MIGRANT WORKERS TO AVOID NEW YEAR TRIPS
Fearing COVID cases, lost profits and possible lockdowns, China’s local governments and humming factories are offering a slew of incentives to persuade workers not to go home for the Lunar New Year holiday in February, Stella Qiu and Gabriel Crossley reported for Reuters.
This period usually sees the majority of the country’s 280 million rural migrant workers, as well as millions of white-collar workers who live far from home, travel back to see family.
The rapid coronavirus spread during last year’s holidays, however, trapped many workers in their villages for months and forced them into long quarantines when they finally returned to the cities.
Factories were paralyzed, industrial production plummeted, and workers lost weeks of income. Companies usually pay more to those who work over the festival, but this year local governments and companies are hoping far more take up the offer.
Most provinces have issued notices encouraging workers to stay in place, citing the importance of epidemic control as well as “guaranteeing the stability of industrial and supply chains.”
Incentives include extra pay, prizes, entertainment, free New Year’s Eve banquets and staggered holiday arrangements. Demand for labor in some industries is already high.
China’s manufacturing recovery, fueled in part by demand from COVID-constrained consumers abroad, has soared past expectations this year, with factories struggling to fill a shortage of blue-collar workers.
While it’s yet to be seen how many workers stay put this year, China’s state planner said it expects “markedly lower” holiday travel than normal. The southern Jiangxi province, a major source of migrant workers, expects travel to be around 60% of 2019.
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