Shenzhen's gift to migrant workers

By Chen Hong (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-24 07:26

SHENZHEN: Migrant workers in this southern city can now get the same retirement pension as their resident counterparts, due to a recent revision in endowment insurance policy.

The local government has waived a regulation that made it mandatory for workers without a hukou, or registered permanent residency, in Shenzhen to pay their endowment insurance premium for five consecutive years before their statutory retirement age to enjoy the benefit.

Since December 29, they can claim the retirement pension as long as they have paid the insurance premium for 15 cumulative years the same criterion that locals have to fulfill.

"It's a symbol of social progress. The millions of hard-working migrant laborers, who are actually the major contributors to the economic miracle of the city, should get the same treatment as their local counterparts," Shenzhen Academy of Social Sciences professor Yang Lixun said.

With nearly five-sixths of its 8.3 million population being migrant laborers, Shenzhen leads the country in this field, he said. "The move could help increase the cohesive force of the city and create a more harmonious society. It could increase the city's attraction and improve its investment environment, too."

According to official data, about 4.3 million people were part of the city's endowment insurance scheme until December 31, 2006. Though a whopping 3.2 million of them are non-permanent residents, only 200 get retirement pension of an average 1,100 yuan (US$141) a month.

"We hope more migrant laborers will continue working in Shenzhen, and live a happy life after retirement," said Yuan Jianyong, director of the city's management office on social security fund.

Since it is not possible to transfer the personal endowment insurance account within the country, most migrant laborers withdraw their savings from the scheme before leaving the city.

Yuan said the social security fund could now have a balance even after the revisions. "We have adjusted the retirement pension calculation methods to make it more closely linked to the duration and base of payment. Migrant laborers, who usually have a low payment base and short payment period, will get a smaller pension compared to some locals residents," Yuan said.

According to existing endowment insurance regulations, a policyholder has to pay 8 percent of his or her salary while the employer pays another 10 percent to the social security fund.

Most migrant laborers polled by China Daily said that though they were happy to get a fairer status, the retirement pension was not the vital most factor to hold them back in the city.

Yang Lingyan, 25, who has worked for a listed manufacturing company for three years, said factors such as housing and living costs were more important.

(China Daily 01/24/2007 page4)

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