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Beijing maid shortage to ease this Spring Festival
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A maid shortage in the Chinese capital will probably ease during next month's Spring Festival season due to pay increases and more job opportunities during the weeklong holiday.

"The shortage in Beijing usually stood at 20,000 to 30,000 in the past when many maids returned home to celebrate the most important family reunion during the traditional festival," said Li Dajing, Beijing Homemaking Service Association (BHSA) president. "But the gap is expected to narrow this year."

"The increased pay has given us reason to stay," a Beijing-based maid surnamed Gao told the Market News. The native of eastern Shandong Province told the paper it was much easier to find a job during the holiday season.

The advent of the "Contract of Home Service in Beijing" on January 1 also contributed to the ease in maid supply, the Beijing-based newspaper said.

In the contract, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce and Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce jointly issued rules to better protect the rights and interests of maids.

Despite the improvement, the shortage still challenges many families in the city.

A Beijing resident surnamed Wu said: "There are some available maids, but few competent ones. Also the prices are too high."

In general, maids are usually paid 800 yuan (US$110) to 1,200 yuan a month. Their salary, however, could double or triple during the festival because of the shortage. Employers often make generous offers to tempt their maids to stay and not return home.

The city authority encouraged Beijing-based maids, including laid-off workers, to fill the vacancies. Some college students also step in to take the job, the paper said.

The BHSA requires household service companies to improve price transparency by stating prices in advance to the customers to avoid irrational price increases. It also advises customers to visit lawful service providers and sign standard contracts with the maids.

As with Beijing, many big Chinese cities are suffering from a serious maid shortage during the holiday. The gaps in Guangzhou and Shenzhen are estimated to be 70,000 and 30,000 to 50,000, respectively.

(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2008)


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