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Workers shun trips home for bonuses
By Liang Qiwen (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-19 06:27

GUANGZHOU: Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Guangzhou are choosing not to return home for the upcoming Spring Festival to earn extra money.

Among the 1.44 million migrant workers in Guangzhou, about 740,000 will stay in the capital city of South China's Guangdong Province as the majority work in service industries, according to a recent survey of Guangzhou Labour Market Service Centre.

Bosses at the centre said many had needy families and were attracted to remain in Guangzhou because of wage bonuses over the period.

As most firms engaged in service sectors, such as restaurants, supermarkets and shopping malls, do not close at any time of the year, many employers are offering double or even triple pay during the holidays.

Luo Changjiang, 33, from Southwest China's Sichuan Province, is among the migrant workers who have decided not to go home.

Having worked in the city for more than 10 years, Luo has done a number of temporary jobs, such as construction worker, drinking water deliveryman and newspaper salesman.

"In the past I always quit my job and returned home for Lunar New Year," Luo said.

He started to work as a full-time security guard in Guangzhou's Baiyun District in May last year.

In order to stay at his post, Luo decided to bring his family to Guangzhou instead for Spring Festival.

Luo said: "I will show them around the city and will celebrate Lunar New Year with them."

Luo said it meant he avoided being caught up in traffic jams as well as having the opportunity to earn more money. He added he would take his annual leave to return home at another time instead.

The number of workers going back home over the period normally puts a huge burden on the transport system.

Wu Qijie, deputy director of Guangzhou Labour Market Service Centre, told China Daily: "The overload is now being eased, because migrant workers are changing their deep-seated concepts of having to go home and reuniting with families for Lunar New Year."

Guangdong has 22 million migrant workers, and most of those returning home during the period travel through Guangzhou's railway stations. It means the demand of tickets often outstrips the supply, according to Zhang Dazhi, an officer of Guangzhou Railway Group.

"We are able to transport only around 5 million passengers during the rush hours."

(China Daily 01/19/2006 page3)

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