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The job market in China, particularly in the more economically developed eastern provinces, contracted noticeably in the second quarter of this year. According to the latest labour market survey published by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, China’s eastern region saw the number of job applicants increase by 132,000 in the second quarter, while the number of job vacancies only increased by 5,000 compared with the first quarter.
Zhao Lupo is a hero. The 40-year-old migrant worker from Anhui reportedly saved five people during the devastating rainstorm that hit suburban Beijing last week. But when he went to the local village disaster relief office he was told to get lost because local villagers had priority in the distribution of relief supplies.
Despite the sharpest economic slowdown in China since the global financial crisis, wages are still climbing rapidly and many companies are having trouble filling jobs--evidence of a structural shortage in the labor market that may help China adjust to slower growth without threatening mass unemployment and political instability.
As the gap between China’s urban and rural economies continues to expand, the largest rural-urban migration in world history persists. When those from the countryside arrive in the city, the current hukou system blocks their access to the social services that urban residents take for granted. While many join the ranks of China’s “left-behind children” as their parents toil in the city, those who go along often rely on migrant schools for their primary education – while they could attend a public school, the typical fees required far exceed a migrant family’s income.
Cui Zhaowei, one of the workers featured in China Labour Bulletin’s 2011 research report on Chinese migrant workers in Singapore, has finally received compensation for the injury he sustained at work in late 2009. Cui, who returned to his home town in rural Shandong in 2010, was awarded S$12,000 for the head injury he suffered on a Singapore construction site just two months after arriving in the country.
During his concert tour of Hong Kong last week, “New Worker” Sun Heng once again called the public’s attention to the threatened closure of the Tongxin Primary School for the children of migrant workers, which he helped set up on a deserted factory site on the outskirts of Beijing in 2005.
A major riot involving hundreds of migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta city of Zhongshan this Monday and Tuesday has reignited long unresolved tensions between the local and migrant populations in Guangdong.
It was no surprise that when the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) announced in early June that raising the retirement age for workers in China was unavoidable due to people’s longer life expectancy, it quickly galvanized a heated public debate.Front page photo of worker in Xi'an's old city by Mathieu Gasnier.
Aboard a passenger ferry bound for Japan, 61 year old Zhang Suqing has one thing on his mind: karaoke greatness. The “Yanjing” ferry carries Chinese tourists on the two day journey from Tianjin, a port city on China’s east coast, across the Yellow Sea to Kobe, Japan.
Sun Heng, a migrant worker turned singer, prefers to call himself a “new worker” rather than a migrant worker. Together with his troupe, the New Worker Arts Group, Sun has been performing for more than ten years, staging over 500 free shows at construction sites and factories across the country. Now, with the rapid development of easily accessible and versatile microblogs in China, Sun has found an even larger audience.

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