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Work resumption salvages working class amid epidemic

(Xinhua)    10:15, May 27, 2020

TIANJIN, May 26 (Xinhua) -- The experience of work disruption during the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic has made people like Mi Zhen, 36, scared of losing his job.

This employee of China's electric bike manufacturer, Aima Technology Group Co. Ltd., said a month-long home quarantine during China's nationwide epidemic control measures in February, weighed on his family life. He said he and his wife could barely make ends meet with their salaries from the company to pay for a mortgage and car loans of more than 7,000 yuan (about 985 U.S. dollars) a month.

Since the company started to select employees from low-risk epidemic areas to restart work on February 15, he and his wife, who comes from east China's Shandong Province, immediately drove for six hours to return to the company in north China's Tianjin Municipality. They were able to secure their former positions after the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Like Mi, some 900 workers rushed back to the company via various means of car-pooling in order to secure their jobs.

The epidemic has had a great impact on the lives of the working class. At the Tianjin-based scooter company, over 90 percent of its employees are migrant workers.

In the face of the labor shortages, the company (with a former workforce of over 3,000 people) had to recruit more than 300 migrant workers from northwest China's Gansu Province, over 1,000 km away from Tianjin and considered a low-risk region during the epidemic outbreak.

Among the new workers, Zhang Xinling, 33, said she had worked in Beijing as a saleswoman in a shopping mall, while her husband had worked as a driver in a courier company in Beijing.

The couple returned home to Gansu during the Spring Festival in January. They failed to retain their jobs in Beijing after they could not return to their posts on time, due to delays resulting from the epidemic control measures. These were aimed at reducing large passenger flows to keep people from cross-infections from the coronavirus.

"Aima's job offers are important for us to raise three kids and support two senior people in my family," Zhang said.

She said the company offers her a monthly salary of 6,000 yuan with free boarding and meals.

Li Shizhi, executive director of Aima said the company currently employs 3,100 people, which is on par with the scale before. The company's production lines are operating at full capacity to catch up with orders, with a daily output of 15,000 electric scooters.

According to the municipal bureau of industry and information technology, as of May 18, the work resumption rate of 197,500 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Tianjin reached over 95 percent. Over 2.5 million employees, or 94 percent of the total number of workers they employ, have resumed work.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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