How Can We Achieve Poverty Reduction Through Labor Transfer?
- poverty reduction approaches
- endogenous poverty alleviation
- vulnerable groups
- targeted poverty alleviation components
- supporting policies
How Can We Achieve Poverty Reduction Through Labor Transfer?
Title : How Can We Achieve Poverty Reduction Through Labor Transfer?
Commencement Date : Wed Jul 05 1978--Thu May 16 2013
Implementing Agencies : Li County People’s Government Labor Office
Support Organizations : Lanzhou, Henan, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi, the mining industry of Shanxi Province, the housekeeping services of Beijing and Tianjin and the agricultural production and development in Xinjiang and Hexi Region
Actuator : Li County People’s Government Labor Office
Members of The : full-time service staff
Contact : the party committee and government of Li County of Gansu Province
CASE PROVIDER :
Sources of Funds :
Catalogue and Index :
Abstract Summary :
Li County is one of the poor counties of Gansu Province with the largest poverty-stricken population, the deepest degree of poverty and the largest poor area. As of 2010, Li County had a total population of 535400, of which 484200 were rural residents, accounting for 90.4%; and 260,000 were rural labors, including more than 130,000 surplus labors. 454 villages of the county are key villages for poverty alleviation, accounting for nearly 80% of the total administrative villages. Based on the new national poverty line of 2300 yuan, Li County has a total of 391500 poverty-stricken people, accounting for 81% of the total, and is characterized by overall poverty, income poverty and ecological poverty. The poor mainly live in the “four districts” of the northwest and southwest regions, covering 16 towns, 204500 people, and 226 key villages for poverty reduction, accounting for nearly 50% of the total key villages. It is remote and has a complex landform and many high mountains and deep valleys. People are scattered everywhere and mainly drink the rain and snow water of water cellars. The ecological environment is extremely fragile. Droughts, rainstorms, frosts and landslides often occur, and the county has rather weak ability to resist natural disasters. In the "5.12" Earthquake and the "8.12" Catastrophic Flood Disaster, the vast majority of the people here returned poverty and faced serious survival risks without food, clothing and housing security. In 2011, Li County was not hit by so many disasters, but the droughts, rainstorms, frosts and landslides still affected 298800 people and the yield of crops of 20600 ha., leading to direct economic loss of 126 million yuan.
From 2001 to 2012, according to statistics, the county invested a total of 13.857 billion yuan of various types of anti-poverty funds, implemented 1411 poverty alleviation projects and reduced poverty-stricken people by 203500. There are now still 208800 poor residents in the county, accounting or 44.24% of the total. A big number of farmers, a small land area and surplus labor force are still the county’s actual situation. To this end, with the purpose to "reduce pressure on land and population", the county took labor transfer as the most important industry and the largest project to accelerate the poverty alleviation and development and address problems related to “three rural issues”.
As a traditional populous agricultural county, Li County has a rather weak financial foundation and is weak in industry, and is one of the key counties for poverty alleviation and development identified by the State Council. With many high mountains and deep valleys, the county has inconvenient traffic, harsh natural conditions, a weak agricultural foundation, a large population and few industrial enterprises, with farmers’ income increasing slowly and little potential to attract labor resources. In some areas, the conflicts between people and land are relatively prominent and a large number of labors are idled. Thus, under the new situation, we must promote the rational flow of rural surplus labors to address problems related to “Three Rural Issues”, carry out labor transfer and organize ex-situ location to increase the possibility, reality and necessity for farmers’ income growth.
Over the years, the harsh environment and hard life helped develop the residents’ ability to endure hardship and entrepreneurial spirit, and made them have a strong desire to shake off poverty. In the past, they upheld the traditional idea of home is always the best place. With economic and social development, the residents changed their idea and determined to shake off poverty through non-local business launching.
The construction industry in Lanzhou, Henan, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi, the mining industry of Shanxi Province, the housekeeping services of Beijing and Tianjin and the agricultural production and development in Xinjiang and Hexi Region all provided work positions for the labor force of Li County, and these workers enjoyed certain reputation in these regions and industries and created brands, not only opening up a new path for these areas to accept more labors and immigrants from Li County, but further strengthened the determination of Li County’s labors and immigrants to work and move to non-local areas, forming a virtuous cycle and promoting labor transfer and migration.
2 Implementation process and specific practices
2.1 Development process
- Recalling the history of Li County's labor transfer over the past three decades, it has gone through three stages:
Initial and development stage (1978-1996): At this stage, the employment structure was simple, people did not have a strong consciousness of labor transfer, only few farmers went out to work in slack season, few labors were transferred and the labor service economy was at the initial stage. Within five years, Li County only transferred 32,000 labors, characterized by wave-style advancement and inflectional development.
Stage of steady advancement (1997-2003): Li County officially founded the Labor Office affiliated to the County Poverty Alleviation Office, strengthened administrative promotion, and implemented a series of policies and measures to support labor transfer. As a result, labor transfer witnessed slight increase and steady development.
Stage of structural transformation (since 2004): Under the guidance of the Scientific Outlook on Development, based on the actual situation of local area, from the perspective of overall development, the county government gives top priority to labor transfer in economic development, takes it as the first industry to increase farmers’ income, the first project to speed up poverty alleviation and development and the first major event to balance urban and rural development, in accordance with the guideline of "fair treatment, reasonable guidance, management improvement and good services", successively formulated the “Decisions on Strengthening Labor Services” and the “Labor Service Planning 2006-2010”, and officially founded Li County People’s Government Labor Office. With the adjustment of labor services work, the improvement of the work network and mechanism, the survey of labor force and labor market, the establishment of the labor service bases and the organization of legal rights protection activities, the labor service work of the county shows a gratifying situation and strong momentum of development. In 2005, the county transferred 96280 rural labors, with a net increase of 24100 and 7400 over 2003 and 2004 respectively. In 2012, it transferred 133700 labors (including 80,000 for organized labor transfer), recorded labor service income of 1.545 billion yuan, accounting for 56% of the per capita net income of farmers. Labor service industry has become a pillar industry to enrich people and entered a new stage of development.
2.2 Specific practices
2.2.1 Main practices of Li County government
With the bi-directional development concept of "tapping the resource advantages and developing labor service industry", taking labor transfer as the backbone to boost rural economic development and the first project to speed up poverty alleviation and development, in accordance with the guideline of "transfer one labor to support one family and boost the economic development of one place", Lixian County vigorously supported and guided farmers to go out to work in non-local areas, actively implemented the “sunshine project” of labor transfer training, stimulated the rural economy and broadened sources of income. As a result, the labor service income increased for many consecutive years and labor service industry has shown a good momentum of rapid development.
184.108.40.206 Building the platform to address people's problems with good services
Li County continuously explored ways for labor transfer management, strengthened the macro management of labor transfer, successively set up the labor service organization network covering the whole county, established the County People’s Government Labor Service Office and township labor working stations, which were equipped with full-time service staff; established labor work liaison offices in each administrative village, arranged liaison officers for the regions or competitive industries concentrated with labors in the county, set up the labor service offices in the labor transfer destinations to provide follow-up services and safeguard labors’ legal rights and interests; successively established a number of labor transfer industry associations, set up the "migrant worker service hall of Li County", implemented the one-stop office and one-station services to provide relevant certificate and consulting services, and coordinate to address disputes on labor services of relevant departments so that migrant workers will feel the government’s determination for poverty reduction and doing practical things for people.
220.127.116.11 Mobilizing people's enthusiasm to enrich them through labor services
Many people in Li County uphold the traditional idea that home is the best place to stay and are unwilling to go out. To this end, Li County made propagandas on labor transfer, striving to create an atmosphere of publicity for labor transfer, made large fixed billboards along the main traffic lines, paste publicity posters in the towns, villages and village teams, and mobilized the labor service and immigration departments to set up propaganda teams for publicity in villages, village teams and rural households. The County Labor Office prepared the "Li County’s Trilogy of Labor Services", well known in a variety of activity venues and among the masses, creating the atmosphere of all people singing the same song to get rich through labor services. Meanwhile, through the activities of selecting the "Top Ten Champions of Labor", "Top Ten Domestic Workers" and "Top Hundred Housekeepers", the County Party Committee and County Government sang high praise of model workers and made propagandas on their good deeds, mobilizing the enthusiasm of migrant workers and boosting the development of labor service industry.
18.104.22.168 Constructing bases to achieve labor migration
According to guideline of "consolidating the old bases and establishing a new market" for labor migration, the county constantly constructed labor transfer bases covering a large area characterized by a large market demand for labors, good living conditions and high wage income, successively opened up more than 20 labor transfer bases in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Fujian, Xinjiang and Hexi Corridor of Gansu, etc. In 2010 alone, the county transferred 820 industrial workers to Beijing, Tianjin and Shenzhen with an annual revenue of more than 16 million yuan, and more than 600 of these workers established long-term labor service cooperative relations and signed long-term labor contracts with the local employers. Since 2008, according to statistics, 1200 farmers of the county have achieved "labor migration" and settled down in many big cities such as Beijing, Tianjin and Shenzhen, and more than 10,000 migrant workers have shaken off poverty and are living a happy life.
22.214.171.124 Holding order trainings to create labor service brands
The quality of workers determines employment opportunities and labor income. Based on the actual situation of a large number of low-quality labors, the county carried out large-scale migrant workers’ skills training in various forms. Despite the weak financial foundation, the county government raised funds from various channels and established the County Labor Transfer Training Center jointly with the local vocational school characterized by "one institution, two names, division of labor and cooperation with advantages complementing each other", set up a dozen of majors including housekeeping, room service, restaurant service, public security, construction, sewing, computer operation, cooking skills, etc., and organized skills training for migrant workers as planned according to the actual situation of the labor bases.
By the end of 2010, the county had held a total of 63 training courses on farm machinery driving and maintenance, rural animal epidemic prevention, housekeeping, security and construction for 7883 rural surplus labors, transferred 7794 migrant workers, achieved the transition of migrant workers from simple labor services to intellectual services and successively created the famous labor service brands of “Lixian Girl”, “Lixian Sister”, “Lixian Upfitter” and “Lixian Scaffolder”, etc.
Through the above measures, Li County explored eight paths for labor transfer in line with local situations, namely: to strengthen leadership and improve the service system for organized labor transfer; to vigorously hold trainings and cultivate high-quality workers for labor transfer; to expand the bases and tap market potential for large-scale labor transfer; to play its advantages for industrialized labor transfer; to strengthen management and services for ordered labor transfer; to support business launching by returned migrant workers for local labor transfer in towns; to speed up small town and infrastructure construction for local labor transfer in the county; and to accelerate the adjustment of rural economic structure to promote labor transfer through structural adjustment. These effective measures accelerated the pace of the county's labor transfer and made labor economy a pillar industry to increase the income of farmers.
2.2.2 Main practices of the relevant government departments
Mobilizing all social forces to create a relaxed environment for labor transfer. The County Labor and Social Security Bureau organized regular labor market rectification in accordance with law to fight against illegal intermediaries and deceptive and extortionate recruitment behaviors and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of labor workers. The County Women's Federation established the Li County Guidance Services Center for Women's Employment and the Women and Children Rights Protection Center to specialize in female labor transfer. The County Agricultural Bank and the County Rural Credit Cooperatives issued low-interest petty loans to labor workers; the County Population and Family Planning Commission provided free accreditation services for migrant workers; the County Post Office and Township Post Office are equipped with labor worker service counter to facilitate the services for them; the County Household Register Management Department has created a green window for the labor workers and gives priority to them in providing services; the county transportation management departments arrange special cars to send and pick up migrant workers in peak times for returning home and going out. With joint efforts of various departments, the county has created a good social environment for labor services.
2.2.3 Development of labor intermediary organizations
To expand labor transfer channels, Li County encourages the development of legitimate labor transfer agencies. While developing and expanding the intermediary agencies in labor security departments, it supports individuals to launch intermediary agencies and develop "labor brokers" and adopted a series of positive support policies to promote the development of labor transfer agencies. According to statistics, there are now 22 legal intermediary organizations and more than 240 labor brokers in Li County, basically forming a rural labor employment service system with public employment agencies of labor and social security departments as the core, complemented by the employment agencies of non-labor service departments, providing a carrier and creating conditions for labor transfer. Meanwhile, Li County has successively established six labor export industry associations, covering construction, domestic service, mining, building material, processing and transportation industry, achieving the direct contacts between government organizations and the masses.
3 Implementation Effect
The rise of labor service industry and the booming labor economy have not only greatly boosted the rapid growth of agriculture and rural economy, but also have a profound impact on economic and social development in many aspects.
3.1 Broadened income sources and achieved revenue diversification
The farmers of Li County have very limited potential for income growth relying on the existing land resources, very limited space for income growth relying on rising prices of agricultural products and very limited magnitude for income growth relying on policies. In this context, labor transfer has become the main channel and a realistic choice for the farmers to increase income at this stage. In recent years, the farmers' per capita labor income increased from 738 yuan in 1994 to 2,493 yuan in 2005, and the proportion of per capita labor income in farmers’ per capita net income increased year by year, rising from 15.63% in 1994 to 38.69 %.
3.2 Promoted the development of agriculture and related industries
Labor transfer has not only solved the survival problem of the migrants, but also led to the efficient allocation of labor resources in rural areas, optimized the distribution structure of the rural labor force and directly improved the rural labor productivity. Some of the income of migrant workers was put in agriculture, effectively expanding the agricultural reproduction scale. A large number of farmers go out to work, greatly easing the contradiction between people and land. If 90,000 residents of Li County are transferred to other regions every year, based on the current per capita share of cultivated land, it is equivalent to an increase of more than 180,000 hectares in arable land. Labor transfer has also directly contributed to the formation of the land transfer mechanism. As a result, some land is used for planting and major households engaged in livestock breeding, creating conditions for intensive farming, large-scale operation, the application of modern agricultural machinery and the promotion of sophisticated technologies, thus promoting the development of agriculture industrialization and accelerating the pace of agricultural modernization. The flow of nearly 100 thousand rural labors of Li County every year will of course promote the development of transportation, catering, accommodation, commercial circulation and related service industry. Labor transfer has become a new driving force for economic growth in urban and rural areas.
3.3 Improved the living standards and appearance of rural areas
The experience of migrant work increased the income of the masses, broadened their horizons, enriched their knowledge and skills, enhanced their ability and changed their traditional ideas. With the influence of modern urban civilization, their living habits have changed significantly. According to the survey, in the past three years, 80% of the money for new house building in Li County was from migrant work income, 90% of the money for purchasing home appliances and furniture came from labor income, and many people have fundamentally improved their families’ living conditions through migrant work, contributing to the improvement of the appearance of the countryside. During their vacation and holidays in home village, they held a variety of cultural and recreational activities to promote the rural civilization and narrow the gap between urban and rural areas, making a direct contribution to the construction of a harmonious society and new countryside. Liu Ningning, a capable migrant worker of Yangpo Village of Mahe Town, leads more than 100 people to engage in construction industry in Xinjiang. During the Spring Festival of 2005, he donated 6000 yuan to purchase a set of basketball stands and sponsored the basketball game participated by the masses of 18 villages. Shishan Team of Yahou Village in Zhongba Town has no highroads. The migrant worker Shi Gensheng of this village invested 12,000 yuan to mobilize the masses to build the village highroads of 5.5 kilometers. This road is known as the “Labor Service Road” in the village now.
3.4 Developed capable persons and contributed to the construction of home village
Most migrant workers have accumulated some capital and enhanced their operation and management capability through labor services, some of them have brought the capital and technologies to launch businesses in their home village to contribute to the social welfare, and some introduced construction projects to boost the economic development of their home village. According to statistics, since 2000, the migrant workers of Li County has introduced construction funds of more than 11 million yuan, launched more than 50 enterprises and created more than 1200 jobs for the rural labors, embarking on the path for a virtuous cycle.
4 Existing Problems
4.1 Low technical quality of labors
Located in a remote mountainous area in northwest China, Li County has relatively backward economy and culture and a low educational level of local residents. Low-quality labors hold a large proportion of the total labors and most of the labors transferred are farmers, who have not mastered so many professional skills and are not qualified for the work positions with high requirements for professions and theory. Thus, many labors of Li County have to choose the simple and low-technology jobs. As a result, most of the migrant workers of Li County are not paid as high as others despite their hard work.
4.2 Lack of labor rights awareness
The labor service industry has begun to take shape in Li County, but there are still many problems between labor and employers. First, the workers know little about their rights and related issues and usually cannot get rights relief in the event of an accident or danger; Second, the legal rights and interests of some dispatched labors cannot be protected. Some labor dispatch enterprises have little capital and few fixed assets with poor management, not covered by social insurance, so the workers’ labor and social security rights can hardly be guaranteed. In summary, as the workers do not have a strong consciousness for their legal rights and the supervision of the employers is not satisfying, the legal rights and interests of many workers cannot be well protected.
4.3 Imperfect labor job security
The overall legal system of labor and social security is not perfect yet, so there is not a legal basis for labor dispatch in practice, leading to the following problems: First, the dispatch organizations use different agreement contents and standards; Second, no solutions have been explored for some responsibility problems; Third, disputes can hardly be resolved. In Li County, the legal system is also imperfect for labor dispatch, and migrant workers cannot find any legal rights protection departments when needed. As a result, the legal rights and interests of the employers and workers cannot be well guaranteed.
Despite great improvement of the working environment and living conditions of the migrant workers of Li County, some workers still work and live in poor environment. On the one hand, after being sent to the work units, some migrant workers work very hard but enjoy no vacation or holiday or the working conditions as agreed, so they live in poor conditions and feel very tired. On the other hand, many workers have to work overtime and do a lot of odd jobs, always ready for many "temporary, subsidiarity and alternative" work positions, with low wage income, no welfare, no reserved funds and no chance for promotion, even no social insurance. Many of them have even not signed the formal labor contract with the employers.
4.4 Unsmooth channels for labor dispatch
In recent years, organized labor transfer continued to increase, mostly by the relevant organizations and social groups, but it is still not the main channel of labor transfer. The labor transfer market is still not mature, the relevant laws and regulations are still imperfect, the government lacks effective means, and some illegal employment agencies and some information consulting companies defraud migrant workers’ money with false information as they know the farmers want jobs urgently and do not have the ability to distinguish. Some companies are also involved in the extortion activities. All these have reduced migrant workers’ trust in labor intermediary organizations, affected social agencies’ image in the eyes of farmers and hindered the healthy development of social organizations, which has become a direct reason why many migrant workers turn to the “street market” or to their relatives and fellow villagers for jobs.