Labor Union Official Sees Decades-long Benefits from Reform, Opening-up

December 28, 2018  Editor: Wang Qian
Labor Union Official Sees Decades-long Benefits from Reform, Opening-up
Hu Xiaoyan at work at her desk. [Cnwomen.com.cn]

 

A vice president of the Sanshui District labor union in the city of Foshan, south China's Guangdong Province, has seen many improvements in her life over the past 20 years, thanks to the implementation of reform and opening-up.  

Hu Xiaoyan, 44, has worked as a vice president in Sanshui since 2016. Before taking over her current position, she had already served as a deputy to National People's Congress (NPC) several times. 

She was the first migrant worker to attend the NPC as a representative. 

Her change in status from a rural woman to migrant worker, mid-ranking official, NPC deputy and vice president of the labor union fully well reflects the development of the country's policies during this time. 

Looking back, Hu remembers clearly each stage of her life. 

From migrant worker to mid-ranking official 

In 1998, Hu, who was in her early 20s then, insisted in leaving her hometown in Sichuan and went to Guangdong in spite of her husband's objection. Her intention was clear — to work in Guangdong so as to earn money and thereby pay the debt caused after the illness of her parents. 

As the eldest of three children, she has been indomitable since childhood. Even if she had two children to look after, she raised pigs and did farm work all the same. 

Her first job was on an assembly line, working 12 hours a day. It brought her only a few hundred yuan a month. Small as this amount was, it was higher than her entire annual income gained from farm work. 

Half a year later, she secured herself a place in a ceramics factory on the recommendation of one of her home fellows. In her spare time, she would teach herself skills in an attempt to get a better position someday. 

Luckily, in 2004, when the factory needed talents for expansion, Hu seized the opportunity and became a workshop manager in charge of recruitment, training, assessment and production. 

It was common practice for her to get up at 4 a.m. and work till 11 p.m. Just like many other migrant workers, she left her sweat in the city where she worked. In 2006 and 2007, she was successively rated as one of the Top 10 Workers of Sanshui District and Top 10 Migrant Workers of Foshan.

From Migrant Worker to NPC Deputy 

In 2007, the fifth plenary session of the 10th NPC approved a suggestion that provinces and municipalities with a large number of migrant workers should send representative worker deputies to join the congress. 

In January 2008, Hu won 740 out of 773 votes to become the first migrant worker to attend the NPC. 

She could not believe how lucky she was. However, since she gained the position, she has aspired to perform her duties well. 

In March 2008, she entered the Great Hall of the People in the capital city of Beijing. As a representative of over 200 million migrant workers in China, she knew she had the duty to speak for them. 

She has attended the so-called "two sessions" meetings for five times and has proposed 20 suggestions altogether, which included medical insurance transfer and the education of children in rural areas whose parents have moved to cities to work. Such suggestions were all closely related to farmers. 

"I am glad that my advice has been put in place. It is not my own achievement, but the efforts of all the people," said Hu.

Serving Workers

After working as a deputy for five years, Hu had more chances to communicate with migrant workers. Her life changed again in 2012 when Guangdong piloted a program of selecting civil servant from deputies.

Hu won the chance to join the labor union of Sanshui District. In May that year, she became vice president officially. 

She was glad to hold the position, because it would help her better serve migrant workers, knowing about their living situation and sharing resources and information from the labor union with them. 

Now, Hu takes charge of skills competitions and rights protection in the labor union. To facilitate her work, she has pursued study actively. Since earning her bachelor's degree, she has taught herself legal knowledge. 

In 2011, Hu launched a summer camp mainly targeting the children of migrant workers and staff members in difficulty. It also enrolled local primary and secondary school students to promote communications between children from other places. 

So far, the summer camp has been organized eight years in a row and has earned a strong reputation from different sectors of the society.  

"I'm always a migrant worker myself. Though my position has changed, my aspiration to work for them remains the same," said Hu. 

Just as she said, all workers must be well prepared to seize opportunities and rise to challenges that may come. She has advanced with the times and brightened her own life and those of others with her progress. 

(Source: Cnwomen.com.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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