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Chinese Cities Share New Year Festival with Migrant Workers
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The traditional Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, which falls on Sunday, is only two days away, and migrant worker Wang Junde from eastern Shandong Province found himself fascinated in bowling game.


This 24-year-old young man, who came to Taiyuan some 1,000 km west of his hometown, said it is first time for him to play "the game of the rich."


Nevertheless, Wang does not pay when going to the municipal cultural palace to play the game and what he needs to do is to show his certificate issued by the municipal labor federation.


It is a special arrangement that the federation made for all these migrant workers who decided to spend away from their home the traditional Spring Festival in Taiyuan, capital of north China's Shanxi Province.


Apart from opening the bowling gymnasium, the labor federation promised to open all its recreation centers to the staying migrant workers free of charge.


The federation statistics show the city with a population of 3.28millions has more than 200,000 migrant workers, and about 10 percent of them would not return to their homes for festivity.


In the national metropolises of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, more migrant workers prefer staying where they are.


In Beijing alone, at least 200,000 migrant workers will greet the lunar new year in the national capital for the sake of a number of ongoing Olympic projects and infrastructure construction.


A contractor surnamed Li told Xinhua about three quarters of the 400 migrant workers in his construction brigade will go on working overtime during the Spring Festival for a project of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


"The entire project has to be completed by late April, so I really don't know what to do without their help," said Li.


Statistics and analysis from the Ministry of Labor and Social Securities said China has more than 130 million migrant workers today and approximately 60 percent of them would return to their hometowns for the very special festival.


That is to say, more than 50 million of them will greet the ushering-in of the Year of Dog in cities, mostly construction workers, patients keepers, attendants and house nurses.


Economic factor is still the main cause of their stay.


Some migrant workers cited the main cause for their staying behind as their unwillingness to part with their current jobs.


Besides, some others prefer staying as they are not able to buy the cheap train tickets during the festival travel peak days while quite a number of others worry about spending too much money when going home.


Yet sociologists acknowledged that it is beyond doubt that is a sad option for most migrant workers to give up their hope of joining their families on this special occasion, as they always attach more importance to the traditional festivals than any other groups in China.


Wang said it would be his third Spring Festival to spend in his host city.


He said, in the past he and his co-workers spent this unique holiday season by playing cards or simply sleeping, "but this year it turns out to be interesting and I am not as homesick as in the past."


Also in the city, the Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group bought 30 TV sets for migrant workers so that they will enjoy vivid, colorful programs during the imminent festival.


A worker from central Henan Province said "though it still cannot make me as happy as at my own home, after all, there is some festivity of the new year."


Though the situation varies from city to city, the rural migrant workers, as a newly-emerged social group, still cannot get rid of the plight of being biased in payment and employment.


It is still hard for those migrant workers to get involved in the urban life, and they have embarrassedly become the margin group of China's cities.


The Chinese government issued a document on resolving the problems for the migrant workers a week ago.


Echoing with the document, China's labor federations at all levels, which mainly provide services to urban employees, have begun paying more heed to the rural workers at the epilogue of the Rooster Year.


The Beijing municipal labor union organizations made the commitment early this month, saying they will not only help migrant workers buy the return tickets both from Beijing and their hometown, but also send delicious dumplings to those who welcome their Spring Festival in the national capital.


Yuan quangao, director of the Taiyuan municipal labor federation, said that the migrant workers are the most hardworking group in cities, but unfortunately some of them could not manage to go home after one year's swink.


"As an organization working for the welfare of all laborers, the federation has unshirkable responsibilities to bring a happy festival to the rural workers staying behind," the official said.


He said the federation started to accept migrant workers since last October and so far over 70 percent of the city's migrant workers have been affiliated into the organization.


(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2006)


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