Peddlers and common laborers are considered the urban poor in many countries. In east China's Shanghai municipality, special services have been offered to these disadvantaged groups to help them find decent jobs and reduce the city's poverty level.
Chen Guoming, a laid-off worker in Shanghai, is an example of how the urban poor can lead a better life with the help of the reemployment services provided by the municipal government and local communities.
Chen was laid off in 1998 after working 28 years in a local light bulb factory. To make a living, he became a fruit peddler.
Life was not easy, he said, as most peddlers feel isolated and insecure. "I was ashamed to see my friends and relatives in the market," he recalled, "and I was nervous when a policeman or a security guard passed by."
A year later, Chen set up a fast food restaurant in his community with the help of a local reemployment center for laid-off workers.
Today, Chen's restaurant is a success, and he has hired 12 laid- off workers as his staff.
"It's a decent job," said Chen. "The pay is good and we all have the feeling that we are part of the community."
So far, over 10,000 community stores, restaurants and small enterprises have been set up in Shanghai, offering jobs to some 140,000 laid-off workers from state-owned enterprises.
Most of these entities enjoy preferential policies including tax exemption and low interest loans. Their employees enjoy the same training opportunities and welfare benefits as those of any other enterprises.
Andrea Singh, an expert of the International Labor Organization, hailed Shanghai's reemployment efforts, saying they may help "tackle the employment bottleneck" in many countries of the world.
(People's Daily 10/13/2001)