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'It's not the life I want to live', says worker

By  He Dan (China Daily)

10:37, February 26, 2012

BEIJING - With no idea about her future, Liu Ye walked along the country road that took her home in Central China's Hunan province in July.

The 25-year-old migrant worker was returning from neighboring Guangdong province because her parents expected her to date a local man, marry and settle in her hometown to support them in their old age.

Liu took her first job in a shoe factory in Shenzhen eight years ago after graduating from a junior middle school.

"I wanted to relieve my family's financial burden. It was costing my parents more than 20,000 yuan ($3,174) a year to have four children in school," Liu said.

In 2003, as a new assembly line worker in the factory, she worked at least 12 hours a day and took only one day off in the first month. A year later, she could sew about 600 shoes a day and earned a monthly salary of 1,000 yuan.

But she decided to quit.

"I had to ask my boss's permission to step away from work, even to go to the toilet. I felt like a machine after the day's work. All I could do was eat and sleep," she said.

Liu went to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, and changed jobs several times, working for example as a cashier in a massage shop and also self-employed running a clothing shop.

"I didn't make money; I lost 8,000 yuan running the clothes shop, but I felt happy to work for myself," she said.

"Because I did what I really like and I felt more motivated to reach the goals I set for myself."

The little education Liu received has discouraged her in her career and in love.

"When I was hunting for jobs, sometime I had to pad my resume with a made-up educational background. I felt ashamed and worried the employer would find out one fine day."

She broke up with her boyfriend who was attending a military school last year because both her mother and oldest sister assumed that the boy would dump her once he got his bachelor's degree.

Liu now works as a cashier for a hotel in her hometown, and her relatives like playing matchmaker for her.

"It's not the life I want to live, because a lot of young people in my small town think about nothing but playing mahjong and killing time in bars," she said.

"I think I'll return to big cities once I get some new job opportunities," she said, adding that she wanted to become a makeup artist for brides.

Liu said she knows nothing about the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"I just hope the government can provide more free training opportunities for us (migrant workers)."

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