Academic sees end to Guangdong labour shortage
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-07 10:16

GUANGZHOU - The pressing migrant worker shortage that has affected South China's Guangdong Province since 2004 is likely to come to a close during the second half of next year, according to a recent finding by a local scholar.

Li Youhuan, a professor in economics at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, revealed the research result recently after studying corporate social responsibility in about 300 enterprises.

Li gave two reasons for his findings.

One, many enterprises in the province have raised the salary, welfare and living conditions of migrant workers. Consequently, more labourers want to stay.

A recent survey conducted by the Guangdong Labour and Employment Service Administrative Centre indicated that the monthly salary of migrant workers reached 890 yuan (US$109.74) on average in the province in 2005 as compared with 750 yuan (US$92.48) in 2004; skilled workers got over 2,000 yuan (US$246.61) as compared with 1,600 yuan (US$197.29) in 2004.

Also, many enterprises have set up recreational facilities and improved boarding conditions, including air-conditioned rooms and rooms for married workers, according to Li.

Li's second reason for the end to the shortage is that as some employers who can't afford improved welfare and living conditions for their employees relocate to less developed regions, the demand for transient workers will be eased.

Citing his research, Li said of those labour-intensive enterprises in China that moved to Viet Nam in the second half of last year, 46 per cent were originally based in Guangdong.

In addition to these two reasons, the local governments' measures to protect the interests of migrant workers is also helping ease worker shortages, Li said.

These measures include raising the provincial minimum wage level.

The minimum wage ranges from a high of 780 yuan (US$96.18) a month in Guangzhou to 450 yuan (US$55.49) a month in rural regions. The minimum wage does not include overtime income, bonuses or subsidies of any kind.

Local governments are also requiring all enterprises to pay migrant workers on time.

Li's view is challenged by human resources professional in the region.

"The problem of migrant worker shortage definitely will be eased gradually. But I'm not sure whether it will absolutely come to an end next year," said Wu Qikai, deputy director of Guangzhou Labour Market Service Centre.

According to Wu, Guangdong still attaches great importance to the manufacturing industry, which entails a substantial number of workers.

But enterprises elsewhere, particularly those in the Yangtze River Delta, can offer at least equally high wages, equally good welfare and living conditions, if not better, he said.