Com­pa­nies try new mea­sures to keep staff from flee­ing

Em­ploy­ers cite bet­ter con­di­tions in in­land China for short­ages

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By QIU QUANLIN in Dong­guan, Guang­dong qi­uquan­lin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chen Zhong­wei has had to shift some of his pro­cess­ing busi­ness to fac­to­ries in in­land ar­eas due to a short­age of work­ers in his com­pany, lo­cated in the tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing hub of Dong­guan.

“A grow­ing num­ber of work­ers have re­signed since the start of De­cem­ber,” he said.

“They are re­turn­ing home to cel­e­brate the Chi­nese New Year.”

Apart from mov­ing some busi­ness to in­land ar­eas, Chen, gen­eral man­ager of Dong­guan Wivtak Elec­tron­ics, also had to work out means to hire new tem­po­rary work­ers to sus­tain man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in the Dong­guan fac­tory.

“It’s hard to find qual­i­fied and skilled work­ers,” he said. “Most work­ers are look­ing for new jobs next year, rather than work­ing tem­po­rar­ily at the end of the year.”

Ac­cord­ing to Chen, nearly 30 per­cent of the 800 work­ers in his fac­tory have con­sid­ered quit­ting their jobs since De­cem­ber.

“They may not come back af­ter the Chi­nese New Year hol­i­day, as the work­ing con­di­tions in in­land ar­eas have im­proved. I am more wor­ried about a wors­en­ing em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion in Dong­guan next year.”

Im­proved work­ing con­di­tions in in­land cities, es­pe­cially in­creased pay, and lower de­mand from over­seas, have made Dong­guan, a tra­di­tional pro­cess­ing and trade hub in the Pearl River Delta, a tough place to keep skilled work­ers.

Chen’s com­pany opened two sub­sidiaries in Hubei and Hu­nan prov­inces sev­eral years ago due to in­creased la­bor and pro­duc­tion costs in Dong­guan.

“As the com­pany is head­quar­tered in Dong­guan, which still has a sound in­dus­trial in­fra­struc­ture and lower ex­port costs, we have to work out ef­fec­tive mea­sures to hire work­ers to keep up smooth op­er­a­tions,” Chen said.

For ex­am­ple, he said, the com­pany of­fers al­lowances for se­nior work­ers.

Other com­pa­nies in Dong­guan also have started to pro­vide more com­fort­able work­ing and liv­ing con­di­tions for work­ers.

To tackle the short­age of staff, Chen’s com­pany has also in­tro­duced au­to­ma­tion to in­crease pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity.

How­ever, a grow­ing num­ber of work­ers, most of which are from in­land re­gions, are leav­ing the city. But not all are leav­ing just for eco­nomic rea­sons.

“I want to spend more time with my par­ents,” said Wang Weifeng from Hubei prov­ince.

The 19-year-old quit his job at a shoe fac­tory in Dong­guan’s Liaobu town­ship and left for nearby Shan­tou where his par­ents work.

“Liv­ing costs in Dong­guan are high,” he said. “I’m go­ing to study at a tech­ni­cal school in my home­town.”

Most mi­grant work­ers in Dong­guan were born in the 1980s and 1990s, ac­cord­ing to Wang Qian, a con­sul­tant

They may not come back af­ter the Chi­nese New Year hol­i­day, as the work­ing con­di­tions in in­land ar­eas have im­proved. I am more wor­ried about a wors­en­ing em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion in Dong­guan next year.” CHEN ZHONG­WEI GEN­ERAL MAN­AGER OF DONG­GUAN WIVTAK ELEC­TRON­ICS

with Chi­tone Group, a hu­man re­source provider.

“Un­like their par­ents, this group of post-1980s gen­er­a­tion work­ers cares more about de­cent work­ing con­di­tions and they change jobs fre­quently,” he said.

As the num­ber of avail­able work­ers has fallen in the last decade, he said fac­to­ries strug­gle not only to find new em­ploy­ees, but also to re­tain ex­ist­ing staff.

Sources with the Guang­dong La­bor and So­cial Se­cu­rity Depart­ment said com­pa­nies in the prov­ince, es­pe­cially in the pros­per­ous Pearl River Delta, ex­pe­ri­enced a surge in de­mand for work­ers in the third quar­ter of this year, af­ter a slight re­cov­ery.

The av­er­age num­ber of work­ers in the Pearl River Delta was 1,277 for each com­pany in the third quar­ter, an in­crease of 6 per­cent from a quar­ter ear­lier, ac­cord­ing to the la­bor au­thor­ity.

It also said the av­er­age monthly pay for skilled work­ers in Guang­dong in­creased year-on-year by 6.3 per­cent to 2,744 yuan ($450) in the third quar­ter.

“We had to re­tain work­ers by in­creas­ing salaries by about 20 per­cent this year,” said Zhang Xing­ming, gen­eral man­ager of Huidong Youme Shoes.

Zhang, whose fac­tory is in Huizhou, a boom­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing city neigh­bor­ing Dong­guan, said there has had been no short­age of work­ers in his fac­tory.

“The shoe busi­ness here has been rel­a­tively sta­ble this year. Skilled work­ers don’t have many job chances as Huizhou con­cen­trates on the shoe in­dus­try,” he said.

Zhang’s fac­tory is sur­rounded by hun­dreds of other shoe man­u­fac­tur­ers in Huidong county.

“Work­ers here are skilled in shoe man­u­fac­tur­ing and we pro­vide com­fort­able work­ing and liv­ing con­di­tions to re­tain them,” he said.

He at­trib­uted the short­age of work­ing staff in Dong­guan to a vast va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries in the city, dubbed one of the man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs of the world.

“For ex­am­ple, work­ers in Dong­guan of­ten change their jobs, say from an elec­tri­cal com­pany to a garment fac­tory, for bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions and a pay rise,” Zhang said.

“The fre­quent change of work­ers will, of course, lead to a short­age of staff for some com­pa­nies that of­fer lower salaries.”

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