Lucky migrant workers receive free flights home for Spring Festival

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, January 26, 2011
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A free flight home may be the best New Year gift possible for homesick, cash-strapped migrant workers, as many struggle with an overstretched railway system a week before China's biggest annual family reunion occasion.

"My grandma cried over the telephone after hearing that I will come home this Spring Festival. We haven't seen each other for ten years," said Jiang Mi, a young lady raised by her grandma in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality before coming to east China's Zhejiang Province with her parents.

Thanks to local trade union federations, some 720 migrant workers in Zhejiang will receive free plane rides home to four cities -- Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi'an and Changsha in southwest, northwest and central China.

Zhejiang provincial federation and the federations of Wenzhou and Ningbo cities paid for the flights, said Zhong Hongjiang, vice chairman of the provincial trade union federation.

Falling on Feb. 3, this year's Spring Festival may see a record 2.85 billion passenger trips taken nationwide.

Fu Anjun from southwest China's Sichuan Province came to work in the coastal province four years ago. He has not returned home since.

At Hangzhou International Airport, he carries an electric cooker on his back and clasps his flight ticket and red bank passbook in his hands.

"The rice cooker is a reward I received from my company. I will give it to my parents to make their life easier," said Fu, whose parents are over 70 years old.

Another worker from Sichuan, Wang Xuecheng, learned while receiving his boarding pass that drinks are not allowed to be carried aboard the plane. He then shared his drinks with fellow passengers.

"It was so difficult to get a train ticket. The train ride from Hangzhou to Chengdu takes 32 hours. It is then another 12 hours by bus to get to my hometown. The flight takes only three hours," said Wang.

Travelling with him was his 6-year-old son, who also received a free flight ticket.

Most of the 720 workers are key technicians selected by their employers, said Zhong.

The provincial federation started paying for Spring Festival flights home for migrant workers last year, to thank them for their work and foster a caring atmosphere, said Zhong.

It was the first time for migrant worker Long Yunwen to fly.

"I feel so happy to fly. Working far away from home was hard. Sometimes I miss my parents and kids so much that I couldn't help but cry," said Long, whose hometown is Chengdu.

While some were lucky and received free flights, millions of others will suffer being packed like sardines into trains.

It may not be comfortable on the trains, but at least the train riders have got the most sought-after commodity of the day -- a train ticket home.

Others take matters into their own hands and ride motorbikes home, a journey that usually takes days of riding on icy roads.

Some 100,000 migrant workers are expected to ride home on motorbikes from Guangdong, a rich, southern China province, said local police.

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