“Stay on both sides when recruiting workers, don’t block the middle of the road.”
Just after the first month of the year, the Zhongda Cloth Market is recruiting workers. The scene was extremely hot, and loudspeakers on the street reminded people to give way over and over again. Garment factories have resumed work one after another. Starting from Kangleqiaotou, people, vehicles and goods form a recruitment queue of nearly 1 kilometer.
With a series of keywords such as “it is difficult to find workers with a monthly salary of 10,000 yuan” and “bosses waiting in line for workers” frequently on the hot search, Guangzhou Haizhu District Kangle, Datang, Lujiang and other manufacturing industries Clothes Village has become a hot topic of discussion on the Internet due to its booming recruitment scene.
In the past year, garment villages have experienced high moments such as the resumption of work due to the epidemic and an explosion of orders, as well as downturns when workers returned to their hometowns in groups and factories had no work to open. But amid the post-holiday wave of rework, this is the hottest corner of the city’s resumption of work.
But behind the fiery scene, there is a grim problem that factory owners and workers have to think about. Where have the young workers gone? It seems that these garment-making villages, which are prosperous because of Guangzhou’s garment industry, are facing the severe dilemma of aging workers and a lack of employment. As the workers in the garment village frequently asked, “There are no more young workers, what will we do when we get old?”
Scene: The recruitment boom in Kangleqiao Village, and the garment workshops are recruiting workers. Difficult
Boss Zou’s “booth” is almost at the farthest end of the recruitment team from the Kang Le Bridge. Unlike the bosses around him, he rarely takes the initiative to recruit workers, or because he is tired. maybe because there is not much enthusiasm left – he has not hired any odd jobs for nearly half a month.
In the factory, only half of the original 10 long-term workers have returned, many orders have not been completed, unopened bags are covered with dust, and the lights in the factory do not need to be turned on. In order to attract workers, he raised the labor price by 30% from the original price and went to the streets every morning at dawn to recruit workers, but with little success. The workers passing by glanced at the shirt in Boss Zou’s hand and continued walking forward, most of them stopping at the green sweatshirt not far away.
In Kangle, “fourth-tier” clothes such as sweatshirts are the most popular among workers. Four-threading is the most basic method of making clothes, and almost all workers master this skill. Because of their simplicity, the unit price of this type of clothing is generally low, usually around 4 yuan per piece, but the recruitment boom has pushed it to 5 yuan.
Each worker can make an average of 400 pieces of “four-thread” clothes a day, while “shuttle” and “ironing” clothes can usually only make 150 pieces. Workers tend to choose four-thread work with low unit prices and simple craftsmanship. The shirts from Boss Zou’s factory are unflattering shuttle-type clothing.
Boss Zou is not an exception. There are many bosses like him who cannot recruit workers. Being able to recruit two weavers a day is considered an enviable “good luck”. Many bosses complain in confusion about the current situation.
“Clothes priced at RMB 6 have increased to RMB 7.5, suits priced at RMB 14 have increased to RMB 20, and daily wages have increased to six to seven hundred yuan. Why can’t they still recruit people?”
“7 yuan a piece is already the limit, it won’t be increased.”
“I would rather stop work and close the factory than increase labor costs, otherwise It’s just a loss-making business.”
At 3 p.m., there were not many workers left on the street, and the hiring bosses were gradually leaving. On this day, they seemed to have to accept the end of having no jobs available.
Dilemma: Should young workers leave or stay?
A young couple born in the 1990s from Hubei likened Kangle Village to the old Shanghai full of gold. “As long as you are not lazy, you will not starve to death. There are always opportunities.”
This year is the 10th year that the two have been engaged in the textile industry. When they first came to Guangzhou, they were a boy and girl under the age of 20, and now their children are two years old.
The young couple lives in a 7-square-meter single room in Kangyue Village. They call the single room with a monthly rent of 1,100 yuan a “broken building”. The light bulbs in the stairwell are always broken, and there are always Cigarette butts thrown carelessly by residents were scattered around. They knew nothing about Hong Kong Village. Now, they almost know how many corners there are in Kangle Village and how many turns they need to take from the archway to the bridge.
The vast recruitment team shouted enthusiastically, and the young couple discussed in low voices which factory they should choose to work in today. “This company’s clothes are too complicated, and that company’s wages are too low.” They compared job invitations one by one, trying to choose the most suitable factory.
“If you don’t want to be a long-term worker, it won’t pay off.” The husband complained. The couple recalled their experience as long-term workers. When they entered the factory, they negotiated a salary of 50 yuan an hour. Two or three weeks later, the boss deducted their wages for reasons such as “the work was rough” and “it was too different from the sample clothes”. , that month they received only two-thirds of their original salary. From then on, the couple began to focus on taking on odd jobs, and the daily salary method gave them a sense of security in making money.
The young couple has never thought of taking a few days off for themselves, but the rent, electricity bills, and living expenses are silent alarm clocks urging them to go out early every day. Finding a job means having income. If there is no job, the whole family will be in deficit.
“We don’t use the toilet in the house.” The husband said that except for washing up every morning and evening, he doesn’t use water at home when he can. My wife knows that the tomatoes at Aunt Li’s vegetable stall are 2 cents cheaper than other stores. She also knows that the beef at 6pm sells for 45 yuan a pound, which is 3 yuan cheaper than in the morning. Husband after get off workOn the streets of Le Village, garbage can be seen everywhere and vehicles drive through freely. Since 2019, the Guangzhou Municipal Government has continued to promote demolition and reconstruction projects in Kangle, Lujiang and other villages. At the end of January this year, the project officially entered the implementation stage, and it is planned to start construction of all resettlement houses before the end of 2023. In the near future, garment villages may become a thing of the past.
Yuan Qifeng, a professor at South China University of Technology, has been following Kangle Village for many years. He said that in fact, the situation of farmers’ self-occupied houses being converted into industrial land and industrial land like Kangle Village is the Pearl River Delta. A special scene during the development of the triangle. The villagers developed their own development and continuously converted their own resources into construction land. On this basis, they continued to form cloth markets and clothing workshop processing clusters. A large number of outsiders entered the area to form a territorialized area, and eventually built their own corner of the world.
Professor Yuan Qifeng pointed out in “The Territory Politics of Commercial Urban Villages in the Pearl River Delta – A Case Study Based on Zhongda Cloth Market District in Guangzhou” that commercial urban villages are different from ordinary urban villages. , the political structure of its field is complex. At the same time, the main body of the field has built a huge threshold for transformation and realized the rejection of transformation. He told reporters that this means that the transformation of Kangle Village faces huge challenges. For the development of the area, solid assets should first be properly placed, and on this basis, space improvement and the introduction of new industries should be further achieved.
National textiles look to Guangdong, and Guangdong textiles look to Zhongda. At the end of the first month, garment workers are in full swing. Kangle Village will gradually regain its former vitality, and the “Qiaotou Station One Day” recruitment team will gradually shorten. In the factories in the building, every machine is roaring.
People engaged in the textile industry in the village have different attitudes towards the current recruitment situation, but few people mention the future. What they care most about is the factory they finally chose and the soup and three dishes they currently have.