You are here

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.
he Chinese government is seeking to reassure workers of their rights, a move activists say highlights Beijing's concern that possible labor unrest could cause disruptions to social stability.  
On a sweltering night in July 2011, 17-year-old Zhang Juanzi arrives at her farmhouse in the remote village of Silong in Hunan province. Despite the cramped 12-hour van journey from Shenzhen, the young girl bounds past the wooden doors to wake up her 5-year-old brother, Zhang Yi, whose face scrunches in the flickering light. He is thrilled by her arrival, but when he sees his mother, Huang Dongyan, he recoils into his sister's arms. He will not look at Huang, who is squealing at him, begging him to say "Mommy."


Subscribe to Migrant workers