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Delivery firms raise pay to bring migrants back
By Yang Jian

MANY parcel delivery companies are offering higher salaries and other incentives to lure workers returning from holiday trips from their hometowns after a slowdown caused by labor shortages during the Spring Festival.

Many companies started recruiting more heavily yesterday, with some offering salaries up to 8,000 yuan (US$1,284) or extra subsidies, managers at several companies said. The average salary offered by delivery firms has been about 5,000 yuan, industry insiders said. Some salary offers are even pulling workers from other industries and regions.

Several companies said deliveries should start returning to normal today. Three big Shanghai companies, STO Express, ZTO Express and SF Express, resumed service over the weekend because their staff, most of whom are migrant workers, had been returning from their festival trips, officials said.

"Forty of some 120 deliverymen of our SF Express branch have come back to work, and the rest will arrive early in the week," said a branch manager surnamed Zhu.

ZTO Express said it was able to get back to a more normal schedule in the city because many staffers failed to buy train tickets to get to their hometowns on time.

ZTO said deliveries outside the city should return to normal by Sunday, the date for the Lantern Festival, which means the end of Spring Festival and the return of most workers.

Aside from traditional delivery companies, other companies such as restaurants are also offering higher salaries than they usually do to attract delivery workers. The local 21Cake food company is offering a salary of 5,000 yuan per month to deliver cakes.

Apart from salary, local STO Express branches also offer accommodations, meals, transportation and phone subsidies, according to a branch in the Wujiaochang area of Yangpu District.

"Many local deliverymen are temporary workers and have no long-term contracts with the firms, so it is always difficult for the firms to call them back after holidays," said Chen Guoqiang, a manager with the YTO Express.

30 companies recruiting

Companies that experienced labor shortages during the holiday may find themselves one-upped by competitors luring their workers by offering higher salaries to returning workers.

Zhang Zhe, a migrant worker from Huai'an, in neighboring Jiangsu Province, said he is confident of finding a delivery job quickly because he noticed yesterday that more than 30 courier firms and other companies were recruiting on the Internet. He has worked in delivery in Shanghai for five years and has been at nearly all the major courier firms in the city.

The incentives offered by delivery firms were pulling some workers from other industries. Gao Bo, a 27-year-old former electrician with a Shenzhen-based technology company, is looking for a job with a Shanghai delivery company. Gao, also from Jiangsu Province, said he planned to do the delivery job for one or two months because of the high salaries offered.

Workload 'nearly doubled'

While salaries may go up, workers may be working harder. Many online orders for holiday gifts, which boomed this year, have been waiting in warehouses because of the labor shortage.

"The workload has been nearly doubled," said He Rubin, a courier with TTK Express. He said he dealt with 1,500 parcels yesterday.

Workers said some of those who didn't go home for the holidays stopped working last week because of the heavy workload.

"There are more heavy parcels during the festival, including packages of rice and cooking oil as well as appliances with holiday discounts," said Kang Feng, a 30-year-old worker from Anhui Province who kept working during the holiday to earn more money.

The work was more difficult because people weren't at home to take deliveries during the holiday.

Kang said he sometimes had to lug heavy packages up five floors, only to carry them back down.

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