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China: Workers face another hit from widespread flooding after COVID-19 pandemic

Author: China Labour Bulletin (Hong Kong), Published on: 31 July 2020

“After the pandemic, China’s workers take another hit from widespread flooding”, 23 July 2020

Tens of millions of people have been affected by this year’s devastating floods across central China, mostly in the relatively poorer provinces of Jiangxi and Anhui, as well as around Wuhan, the locus of the Covid-19 outbreak…

… it has been China’s low-paid workers, particularly rural migrant workers, who have been disproportionately affected by the floods… In the famous porcelain production town of Jingdezhen, for example, hundreds of workshops, factories and shops were inundated by flood waters that reached two metres high at their peak…

… the low-paid workers who were on the frontlines of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic have once again been called into action. In Leping, adjacent to Jingdezhen, 2,000 sanitation workers were deployed to clean up debris after the floods and prevent stagnant water from becoming a breeding ground for disease. In was a similar story in She county, Anhui, where 1,600 sanitation workers worked overtime to clear garbage and the river silt that had been dumped in the city streets. And again echoing the pandemic, it has mainly been women workers on the frontlines of flood prevention and relief…

The official figures confirm a lot of anecdotal evidence showing that even for middle-class white-collar workers, incomes have been cut, payment of salaries has been delayed and staff have been laid off or placed on unpaid leave. For low-paid migrant workers, the impact has been even more severe.

A recently published survey suggests that at least 30–50 million migrant workers lost their jobs in late March, and that it was likely that by mid-May, at least 20 million were still unable to resume work. Those who could find work generally earned lower wages and endured far more precarious working conditions…

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