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Pearl River Bloc to Launch Website for Migrant Workers
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The 11 member provinces and regions of the Pan-Pearl River Delta (Pan-PRD) cooperation bloc have agreed to set up a website this year to provide information about job opportunities to transient workers.

They also vowed to better safeguard the welfare of such workers in the region during the Fourth Pan-PRD Economic and Trade Co-operation Forum. The five-day gathering concluded yesterday in Changsha, capital of Hunan Provinc.

The 11 members of the bloc include nine provinces - Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Hunan, Fujian, Hainan and Jiangxi - and two special administrative regions - Hong Kong and Macao. This group is often abbreviated as "9+2".

Right now, more than 60 million laborers from rural parts of the group's nine member provinces are working as migrant workers in cities. Thirty-five million of them are working outside their home provinces, accounting for half of the nation's total non-native labor force.

Since there are few forums to exchange information about labor markets and job opportunities, many workers come to cities without knowing whether they will be hired. As a result, they often end up being mistreated and are even deprived of their basic rights.

The soon-to-be-established website will help distribute knowledge about urban labor markets.

And to further improve the welfare system for migrant workers, the central government intends to create endowment insurance accounts for every migrant worker within the year.

"Under the current system, the amount of cooperation between different cities' insurance systems is far from ideal," Zhang Xiaojian, deputy-minister of labor and social security, said while addressing the forum.

Insurance policies cannot be transferred to different cities if the buyer moves. As a result, a lot of workers are forced to cancel their policies when they move to other cities or return to their hometowns, Zhang said.

In the foreseeable future, each migrant worker will be given an insurance account, into which 5 percent of his or her monthly income will be deposited.

The worker's employer and the community will each contribute some money to the account as well, equivalent to 35 percent of a worker's monthly income. The accounts will follow workers regardless of where they choose to live in the future.

As the economic powerhouse of south China, Guangdong possesses the biggest labor market in the 9+2 bloc.

"At the end of 2006, Guangdong had 12 million workers who were originally from the other eight provinces," Zheng Chaoyang, the deputy director of the provincial labor and social security department, told China Daily.

(China Daily June 13, 2007)

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