GUANGZHOU: More than 20 percent of migrant workers in Dongguan, a major manufacturing hub in Guangdong province, will not return to work after the upcoming Spring Festival, according to a new survey.
"Unsound employment conditions, including a common practice of delayed payments" are some of the major reasons while 21 percent of the migrant workers polled don't want to return to Dongguan, once regarded as one of the world's largest manufacturing bases, said a survey conducted by the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily.
About 95 migrant workers, aged between 18 and 40, most of them from provinces of Sichuan, Hunan and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, were interviewed for the survey conducted early this month.
Up to 90 percent of the workers hoped their salaries would increase after the Chinese New Year, which falls on Sunday.
"I seldom send money to my parents. It is hard for me to afford such high living expenses in Dongguan," said a migrant worker surnamed Huang.
Yang Fushou, a member of the Dongguan political consultative conference, has urged the local government to increase the minimum salary of the workers from 770 yuan to 1,000 yuan per month.
"They left their homes to make a better living here. We have to respect their needs," Yang said.
Yang, who is also the general manager of a Dongguan-based factory manufacturing children's products, said he found it difficult to hire qualified workers last year even though his company had doubled salaries.
Yang conducted a three-month survey on migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta last year and found that they were leaving the region due to "the unsafe living environment".
"A worker told me he was once robbed on a street shortly after he got his salary. But the police did not help him," he said.
The government and local companies should offer more care to migrant workers, he said.
"For example, the government should give workers' children equal rights as the locals when it comes to education," Yang said.
Zheng Xiaoqiong, a migrant worker deputy to the Guangdong provincial people's congress, attributed the shortage of migrant workers to "worsened working and living conditions" in the Pearl River Delta region.
Many of Zheng's friends have left for the Yangtze River Delta region in search of a better working and living environment.
"Some companies in Guangdong are very shortsighted. They would hold back workers' salaries before the New Year just to ensure they return after the holidays," he said.
Li Huiqin, Party secretary of Houjie township of Dongguan, disagreed with Zheng, saying companies in the city had realized the importance of attracting workers by increasing salaries and welfare.
"As far as I know, up to 80 percent of workers will return after the Spring Festival," Li said.
"Dongguan has developed a very sound industrial chain, with more jobs and better working conditions," Li said.
He added that the government would organize a series of job fairs in provinces and regions that export labor service this year, to help local companies find more workers.