South China Factories Hiring By the Day

Reuters: How old-school factories stay alive in China's south
"We never used to hire temporary workers, because labor costs were not very high. Our workers were on staff," said Huang Biliang, who runs a button factory in the southern city of Dongguan. "But recently we've started to hire more temporary labor."

In a stainless steel factory in the nearby town of Jiangmen, David Liang, manager of Chiefy, agrees: "Every additional (permanent) worker I hire is an additional risk."

The result is a section of China's manufacturing base that has adapted to volatile conditions and higher wages - keeping the country's hold on some labor-intensive work that it might have lost to cheaper regions elsewhere in Asia.

Struggling companies do occasionally turn to temporary workers - but this is a change for China, where authorities have sought to crack down on precarious employment, introducing tougher rules in 2012 to protect so-called 'dispatch' workers.

China wants to shift away from piece-work toward a high-tech consumer economy. Shiling's experience suggests, however, that casual labor could help the country's plethora of small manufacturers remain sellers of cheap shoes, toys and stainless steel pans for a few years yet.

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