Government offers assistance to laid-off workers

Women who were laid-off workers learn to take care of newborns at an employment service center in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, in April. [Photo by Zhang Zhen/Xinhua]

China’s leading human resources authorities will help workers in industries with excess capacity to find jobs in other sectors, an official said on Friday.

“The government will provide enough social security to ensure these workers’ basic needs and will offer training to help them transfer to other jobs,” Xin Changxing, vice-minister of human resources and social security, said at a media briefing.

Xin said preliminary estimates showed that about 800,000 workers in the coal and steel industries-two major sectors with overcapacity-will be laid off within the year.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has forecast that 1.8 million workers will be laid off in the two sectors in the coming years.

Xin said the relocation of redundant staff has progressed smoothly so far.

“Some iron and steel companies have made detailed plans to relocate workers, with full recognition of their current situations and their expectations for future jobs,” he said.

He cited the example of Hangzhou Iron and Steel in Zhejiang province, which set up more than 400 task forces to assess the situations and needs of redundant workers and implemented relocation plans on that basis.

At least 12 measures were eventually devised, including early retirement, so workers will leave the company with some compensation or start their own businesses. In January, all 9,000 of its workers had secured a means of exit.

Li Ning, a young worker at the company, chose to start his own business. The relocation plan stipulated that those who opted to leave the company directly would receive considerable financial compensation, while those choosing to start their own businesses would be given a new six-year contract.

However, if their businesses fail to prosper within the six year time scale, they will still have to leave the company when the contract expires, but will receive less compensation than members of staff who left directly. Despite that, Li Ning thought the offer was worth accepting and decided to try his luck.

However, relocation is not easy, especially in cities that were developed solely on coal or iron resources, according to Xin.

“Unlike people in big cities, where there are many other job opportunities, workers in these coal or steel cities may have limited choices and face pressure when they attempt to relocate,” he said.

He admitted that older people who have worked in the two sectors for a long time may find it more difficult to land jobs in other industries. “The government will provide vocational training for them, which will be helpful,” he said.


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