Urgent measures have been introduced by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security to help safeguard the legal rights of migrant workers.
High on the list of priorities is the crackdown on illegal labor markets, in which many employment agencies cheat migrant laborers out of service charges for false information about jobs.
The ministry explained the measures were based on its findings that it is difficult for migrant laborers to find jobs in big cities because many companies are not yet fully operational following the Spring Festival holidays.
"Jobs are limited but laborers are many; so we need to take urgent action to crack down on illegal job markets," said Xin Changxing, director of the Department of Training and Employment under the ministry.
Xin's ministry has also decided to provide regular bulletins relating to jobs in cities to rationalize the flow of migrant laborers into urban centers.
Xin also said job agencies should play a bigger role in helping surplus farmers find suitable jobs as soon as possible.
For those planning to travel to cities for work, the message for the moment is stay away.
"We hope that farmers who want to leave their home towns to find work will not flood city job markets too quickly," Xin said.
Xin's suggestion was based on the finding that two-thirds of companies surveyed by his ministry would like to employ new workers but not for the next couple of months. The national survey was conducted during the holiday season and involved 5,287 companies in 24 major cities.
He added that industries such as construction, clothing and food processing are the main sectors that can employ surplus farmers.
Despite the labor authorities' warning, in the past days millions of rural laborers have already headed for cities to join the massive job hunt.
But public transportation firms say it is not easy to get rail or air tickets because of limited transportation capacity. The country is experiencing another peak in transportation as college students who returned home for the holidays are heading back to universities in the cities.
(China Daily February 25, 2002)