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Guangdong lifts ban on migrant job seekers
By Liang Qiwen (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-14 00:00

Migrant workers can now seek work in South China's Guangdong Province immediately after Chinese lunar New Year, overturning a decade-long ban stopping a traditional influx of people in the month following Spring Festival.

Widely known as the "six disallowables," a 1995 decree forbade the recruitment of workers from other provinces during the period to control a huge inflow that strained facilities like transport.

This year, however, the province is worried about labour shortages, so the Guangdong Provincial Labour and Social Security Bureau lifted the ban on Tuesday.

Zhang Xiang, an official with the bureau, confirmed the move would ease labour shortages, which the area has been suffering from over the past several months.

At least 2 million migrant workers have reportedly moved to better-paid jobs in the Yangtze River Delta area in East China.

Wu Zhenchang, with the Guangzhou Association of Taiwan Entrepreneurs, said he believed the move would encourage farmer-turned labourers back to Guangdong.

Latest statistics show there were 19 million migrant workers in Guangdong in 2004. The province's labour and social security authorities predict that about 50 per cent of them will head home in the Chinese New Year, returning to their work places afterwards.

Cheaper means of transport, such as buses and trains, will be their first choices.

"We decided to cancel the ban because we believe the current capacity of transport in the province is large enough to meet a sharp increase of migrant workers," said Zhang Xiang.

"Guangzhou, the capital of the province, will lift the ban as soon as the lunar New Year is over," said Zhang Jiemin, director with the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Labour and Social Security.

He was not as convinced that the city's transport capacity would be able to bear the extra load, however.

The Guangzhou Railway (Group) Company, which is operating most of the province's railways, says that in ordinary times of the year, more than 300,000 passengers are carried daily by Guangdong's railways. He said the current capacity would be able to carry nearly 500,000 passengers at peak.

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