Coronavirus: China's manufacturing heartland almost back to normal as over 6 million workers return

South China Morning Post Dipublikasikan 10.03, 04/03
Coronavirus: China's manufacturing heartland almost back to normal as over 6 million workers return

A concentrated effort, which includes chartered trains and flights as well as cash bonuses for workers, for factories in China to resume normal operations after the coronavirus slowdown is producing results with over 90 per cent of firms in the Guangdong province having resumed operations as of Monday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The Human Resources and Social Security Department of Guangdong said over 6.08 million migrant workers had returned to work, which represents around a third of the overall migrant worker population in the province, although efforts have largely been focused on larger companies, with smaller firms continuing to struggle.

Most workers had been unable to return to work up until last week because of travel restrictions or new health requirements imposed on factories to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has infected more than 80,000 people and killed over 2,900 in China.

Over 70 per cent of migrant workers who returned home to Yunfu, a rural city in the mountains of northern Guangdong, on or the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, were unable to leave until February 20 due to the restrictions, the report said.

But now, more than half a million people across the city are now leaving their hometowns and heading back to urban areas, mostly in the Pearl River Delta.

Biel Crystal, a supplier of glass screens for Apple iPhones that normally employees 30,000 workers, had only 5,000 return to its facility in the city of Huizhou, Guangdong province, in the first week after the extended Lunar New Year holiday period ended on February 9.

But an additional 22,000 workers had returned just over a week later thanks to the financial incentives and transport support offered by the local government, the report added.

According to government-run Nanfang.cn, specially designated support policies and subsidies have been introduced by authorities in Guangdong to promote the resumption of work in the province's leading supplies and business groups.

In total, 209 companies that are major suppliers to Huawei, as well as 21 suppliers to fellow telecommunication giant ZTE, along with 167 suppliers for electrical appliance maker Midea and 343 suppliers for car maker GAC Group, have been given priority to recruit workers.

However, small and medium-sized businesses are still struggling to solve their labour problems.

"We cannot affordable to pay for chartered trains and flights and those (government) support policies and subsidies are only for giant companies and government-owned enterprises" said Wang Tai, who runs a small fabric processing workshop in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province.

In 2018, the migrant population in the Pearl River Delta reached 26 million, according to a China's Migrant Population Report released by China's national health commission.

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