China Urges Bosses to Help with Labor Stability (Updated)

The annual session of the National ’s Congress opened today in Beijing with unemployment and rising unrest at the top of the government’s agenda. From Reuters:

“We encourage people from the non-public sector … to shoulder their share of social responsibilities and work hard to ensure that no employees in their enterprises are laid off, or suffer pay cuts, or wage arrears, in order to create harmonious relations,” Jia Qinglin told the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body that meets once a year.

Provincial and central government have urged state owned enterprises to reduce in order to keep workers employed and limited state-owned firms’ abilities to fire large groups of workers.

“Reassuring (the people) is an important way the government maintains stability,” said Jia, the ’s fourth-ranked leader.

See also “Highlights of Jia Qinglin’s work report of China’s top political advisory body” from Xinhua and a video report “China faces grim job outlook” from Reuters:

Update: The Washington Post has a report on the increasing desperation felt by the growing numbers of unemployed workers:

Six months into what economists and labor experts say is China’s worst job crisis since it began market reforms 30 years ago, many among the most vulnerable — an estimated 20 million workers who lost their jobs after migrating from the countryside to cities — are becoming desperate.

As tens of thousands of manufacturing companies have collapsed amid slowing demand due to the global economic crisis, the laid-off workers can no longer find jobs in the cities. For many, returning to their rural roots is not a possibility because their ’ farmland has been sold off to make room for , office high-rises and apartment complexes — leaving them with no safety net. Even those lucky enough to have kept their farming plots have been hit hard by a drought — the country’s worst in 50 years, according to the government — which has affected up to 80 percent of the land for winter crops.

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