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  Hard times for migrant workers in Guangdong

Thousands of migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta are packing up and heading home, as jobs and decent wages in the region become increasingly hard to find.

"There just wasn't enough work; I was barely making my basic salary," Wen Caixia, who quit her job at a shoe factory in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, in favor of a return to her village in Hubei Province, told China Daily yesterday at Guangzhou East Railway Station.

Migrant workers who quit their jobs in Guangdong Province arrive in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, November 3, 2008. [China Daily]

Wen said she and her husband had been working in Dongguan for more than two years.

"Over the past few months, the company just wasn't getting enough orders. There was never any chance of overtime, so we were unable to save any money," she said.

"The living costs are very high here, so I think it's better if I go home and take care of my son," she said.

Before boarding her train, Wen said she hoped to return to the province in January for the Spring Festival.

"It might be easier to find a job then, and hopefully I'll be able to make more money," she said.

Also waiting for a train yesterday was Liang Dong, an IT engineer who said he was taking a sabbatical from his job at a printed circuit board factory in the Nanhai district of Foshan.

"The company has seen its orders plummet since the beginning of the financial crisis," he said.

"My boss said that I could take a long holiday, but it will be very hard to make a decent living."

Liang said he will have a good rest before deciding whether to return to Guangdong or look for work elsewhere.

A ticket seller surnamed Guan at Guangzhou East Station, said that over the past few weeks there had been a marked increase in the number of migrant workers heading home to Chongqing and Sichuan, Hunan and Hubei provinces.

Liang Jiamin, an official with the Guangdong labor department, said on Thursday: "Many workers have lost their jobs or gone without pay as a result of firms going bust or downsizing their operations.

"Labor and social security departments across the province, especially those based in the Pearl River Delta region, have been told to do all they can to help people get the money they are owed," he said.

"We are also trying to help people to find new jobs," Liang said.

In the third quarter of this year, the number of job vacancies in Guangdong fell by almost 17 percent year on year to 2.1 million, he said.

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