The author of the following text is the party secretary of the city of Suqian, Zhang Xinshi. The following translation is of the article on his blog on Sohu, from October 17th, 07:14. The original article probably first appeared on his government blog on October 11th.
Every morning in Suqian [city in Jiangsu province], the roads leading from the surrounding countryside to the city are filled with an army of motorcycles and bicycles carrying our migrant worker brothers rushing into the city to their work sites, where they have short-term and odd jobs building skyscrapers and factories. At dusk they return home like a tidal wave. At traffic intersections, I have had several brief conversations with them. Question: How much do you earn for a day’s hard work? Answer: 70-80RMB. What kind of work? Woodwork, which is not as much as bricklaying (currently, the skills for woodwork are low, it’s only hammering), which is 120-130RMB a day. The bosses on the construction sites often complain. Nowadays migrant workers are harder and harder to find. They can only be found if you pay them in cash each day!
This is change. I remember ten years ago, Suqian’s bricklayers daily wage went from 10-20 RMB to 70-80RMB, increasing step by step, the demand for them expanding every year. Last summer the most needed supply for our city was “commercial concrete” and “industrial steel”.
Suqian’s thriving investment demand drives demand for labour. The migrant workers unanimously agree that Suqian’s major construction have brought many opportunities for hard-earned money, hoping it can go on this way.
Currently, migrant workers’ salaries make up over 60% of their individual income. From January to September this year, the average disposable income of our city’s migrant workers have increased by 19%. The 200 million migrant workers of the country constitute the main body of China’s working class. They work in the factories and cities under the most bitter and tiring conditions. If a factory closes, they can, under such economic depression, only roll together their bedclothes and go home, without any unemployment benefits, without pension insurance, and maybe without any kind of compensation. We have seen in the reports on TV and in the press how in some developed regions the traditional textile, clothing, footwear and other small businesses grew bigger due to increased capital, but they had to suddenly close down due to sinking exports. Migrant workers would rather staye in the old, broken houses, eat “mantou” and pickled vegetables than go home. Those who are young and with some labour skills have the chance to find a new job, but those who are older and without any skills fall into dire straits.
Earlier, people planned to raise China’s manpower cost, to push forward the restructuring of the economy and the technical upgrading of the enterprises, and to raise the qualification and know-how of the labour force. However, the pressure of inflation and the recession of the world economy led to a shrinking production and also decreased employment opportunities. That is a problem we cannot avoid diligently taking measures to deal with. In developed countries, an unemployment rate of 5% is enough to cause political instability and economic system collapse. Maybe the unemployment rates of the migrant workers in China are hidden in the statistics, or even not recorded, but if they suddenly lose their income, go home but have no farm land (inherited from the previous generation) or do not know how to farm, their lives will encounter big problems. We can’t expect China’s labour force to suddenly increase their character/skills/abilities immensely, because the majority among them are first-generation workers, and a relatively large number of peasants with low educational level. They are only able to do crude and simple labour, but this kind of work still needs people to do, and the important thing is not to lose this kind of job opportunities.
Fortunately, thanks to the major economic development of Suqian, the demand for labour thrives, often evidenced by a shortage of supply. Let us imagine the day, where the roads entering and leaving Suqian city were missing the heavy morning and evening traffic. That would mean a large number of migrant worker brothers who could earn about a hundred RMB everyday have fallen into difficulty. Consumption will also fall, which will also affect production. The economy will certainly slide downwards. That is what we are not willing to see.
As a late-developing region, Suqian’s industrial economy must maintain rapid development, its real estate must steadily develop, its commerce must be promoted, and there cannot be wild fluctuations, all to create even more job opportunities. We the government are willing to give up part of the profits to maintain the necessary speed.
The following comments are taken from Sohu. Many comments were posted as anonymous “Sohu” users.
You must have had a slip of the tongue. So the government has a lot of benefits [profit?],are you businessmen?
These people are farting. When migrant workers move to the cities, the education problems of their children remain unsolved. The person talking about this problem was born by a pig.
The government will give up the profits for the ordinary people? You still have face to say something so ludicrous, I guess blogger’s mother is a dog [as her Chinese zodiac]. I strongly despise these incapable of human speech beasts [incapable of speaking sensibly]!
Talking nonsense/crazy talk.
Damn, nowadays where it is hard for a student to even find a job, and migrant workers can earn 70-80 a day? Where is this? There is such a good thing? There are 200 million migrant workers in the whole country, but how many people are in this place you mentioned [meaning, how many people are actually making 70-80 RMB a day]?
I haven’t figured out what the LZ meant by government profits? What profits does the government want? They are not a commercial organisation? Why do they have profits???
Why bother? He only wants to bullshit some political achievements. If I remember correctly, the writer is Suqian’s party secretary.
Even this kind of stupid talk he can say out loud. His skin really is too thick [originally, “facial skin” is too thick].
He talked a bit about superficial things, but didn’t dare to talk about the nature of the problem. But again, for someone in his position to say anything at all can be regarded as not bad. “Jia you!”
Isn’t the ZF the people’s ZF? Since my childhood that was what was written in the political books. If it is like this, how come “the government is willing to give up part of the profits”?
The government has to cut ties with the real estate companies. Being a local official means first to secure every citizen’s basic needs (food, medical care, housing etc.). As the government you are not a businessman. Carry out your own responsibilities, that is your vocation.
Maybe the blogger is defending the new subsidy policy for the rescue of the real-estate market!!!
Talking half the day and it is again about the rescue of the real-estate market, even though flying the flat for the migrant farmers. He doesn’t think: Can those migrant workers afford the houses they built with their own hands?
It is not easy that someone speaks the truth, but he is still scolded? Those running a small shop or a company are allowed to make profits, but you won’t allow those running the government to have their own profits? Then you come run the government. Do you really believe that running the government is for only to serve the people without need of capital?
Do not stand there and pretend to be good. The Chinese Communist Party can pretend the best, their words are sweeter to the ear than songs. If you really have a heart then show us the practical action you talked about, and only then will us ordinary people admire you. Just talking is useless.
There are unemployed citizens everywhere in the city… Can’t you see them???
The comments on blog.suqian.gov.cn are mostly constructive and approving:
The situation described in the beginning of the text is very true, “At dusk they return home like a tidal wave”. Often early evening is the most likely period for traffic accidents. The responsible organs shall please increase traffic regulation and control at these times to safeguard the safe flow of the traffic!
Secretary Zhang’s good policies about commerce and real-estates easily reminds one of the collusion between business and bureaucracy. Commerce in general has to be adjusted by the market, human intervention will cause the opposite, especially the government which has had close ties to the entrepreneurs.
A party secretary who cares about the people.