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Guangdong NPC deputy focuses on lives of migrant workers

Qiu Quanlin
Updated: Mar 10,2021 09:01    China Daily

Over the past three years, Li Xianlan's suggestions to the National People's Congress, the top legislature, were almost all about migrant workers' lives and their children's education in cities.

"As a grassroots deputy to the NPC, I'm very concerned about how migrant workers can live better and their children can receive better education in cities," Li said.

Li, 37, also deputy head of the female workers' office of the labor union of GAC Honda, a joint venture between Chinese carmaker GAC Group and Japanese automobile powerhouse Honda, said the suggestions were generated from her time working on a sewing production line for more than a decade.

Li left her hometown in Jingshan county, in Central China's Hubei province, to work in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, in 2003. She was elected an NPC deputy in 2018 for her contribution to innovative sewing technologies in the production line.

"I am an NPC deputy. But deep in my heart, I am a migrant worker. I will always be concerned about the lives of migrant workers and their children," she said.

"Instead of leaving children behind in their home villages to be cared for by aging grandparents, a growing number of migrant workers like me are taking them to cities to provide better care and education for them. Children's education is a major concern of migrant workers, who have made significant contributions to the country's rapid urbanization."

Li took her child, once left behind for years in her hometown, to Guangzhou a few years ago. "My parents were too old to care for my child," she said.

However, her child was not able to attend public school because she did not have local household registration.

Li was not the only one concerned. After visiting many factories and many communities where migrant workers lived in Guangzhou since being elected an NPC deputy, she found that a large number of migrant workers feel the same.

"As a result, my suggestions to the legislature were mostly about allowing migrant workers to better share the same service as their urban counterparts," she said.

Guangdong, an economic powerhouse in South China, has the highest number of migrant workers in the country, absorbing more than 3.87 million of them from poor counties in central and western China.

"My suggestions are becoming closer to reality - more cities have adjusted their household registration rules to allow nonnative people to better settle in cities," she said.

Guangzhou has introduced a points-based household registration method that is widely regarded as a fair way for non-natives to obtain local urban status, according to Li.

"The household registration rules are optimized, allowing more migrant workers to obtain their urban status - in education, healthcare and other fields," she said.

In 2020, a group of 8,800 people with the most points out of 21,000 nonnative applicants in Guangzhou obtained the city's household registration status, according to the city's service and administration office for non-natives.

After serving as an NPC deputy for three years, Li made a suggestion to the top legislature that went beyond issues concerning migrant workers' urban status this year - she called for more care for menopausal women.

"A legal basis for the protection of menopausal women's rights and interests should be established," she said.

In the labor law, special provisions should be added to reflect the care for menopausal women, in the aspects of leave and overtime, according to Li.

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