In China’s manufacturing industry, the outbreak of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc. Unable to operate for weeks on end, factories have been faced with uncertainty in almost all aspects of their operations, even as the situation gradually eases. According to a survey The Centre (formerly CCR CSR) conducted with participants of its webinar on responsible recruitment, by March 17, 70% of factories reported that 80% of their workforce had returned to work. Despite this, the survey found that factories were still facing major recruitment challenges. The majority of factories were still struggling to meet their employment needs and 45% of respondents said they had to turn to online recruitment channels to try to find workers. Meanwhile, 51% were experiencing high turnover rates among new recruits. In addition, with the virus now shutting down countries across the globe, the uncertainty does not only affect the supply but also demand, thus further enhancing the factories’ struggles, leading many factories to face cancelled orders.
To support the factories during this challenging time, The Centre organised a free online training for Chinese suppliers on March 17 2020 that sought to impart them with practical ideas and actions on how to conduct their recruitment practices responsibly. 178 participants took part in the 1.5 hour webinar, which discussed the key challenges and risks currently facing factories as well as practical actions they can take in response to these challenges and risks. Topics covered included ways to expand recruitment channels, incentivise workers to return and strengthen management processes pertaining to temporary/short-term workers, labour agents, dispatch agencies etc.; overtime management and wage negotiating; and how to prevent the hiring of underage workers.
Thanks to a survey completed by 121 of the participants, we could also get a better understanding of the challenges, perceived risks and measures that factories have been taking in light of the Covid-19 situation, which are presented in the infographic below.
According to a post-webinar survey, 74% of factories plan to create effective on-boarding incentives from now on to attract more workers.
Other Challenges: Migrant Parent Workers – upcoming events
Apart from recruitment, another major challenge factories are grappling with are dealing with their migrant parent workers. For example, parents returning to their jobs are not able to secure childcare for their children, especially now that schools, kindergartens and childcare facilities remain shut. Not only is this situation deterring parents from returning to work altogether or leading them to quit, it is also creating new risks.
“Sometimes my relatives drop by to check on my kid; other than that my kid is left unattended at home. I prepare lunch for her in the morning, so she only needs to heat it up by microwave at noon. Honestly, I am worried about her safety. I will feel more relaxed when she returns school,” one worker told The Centre during a recent interview.
“My daughter, in most cases, stays at home alone. I think our factory can’t really help us in this aspect. Sometimes I take her to the office in the factory, so that I can keep an eye on her at work,” said another.
In light of this, The Centre is organised a webinar for Chinese suppliers on migrant parent support on March 31st 2020 for close to 300 participants.
We are also in the process of organising a workshop with the CSR Centre at the Embassy of Sweden for international companies sourcing from China on why and how to support the wellbeing of migrant parent workers in China’s factories. The event will be held in Shenzhen and a date will be set as soon the present restrictions on travel and physical meetings will be lifted. Companies interested in attending can get in touch already now, and be added to our invite list.
If you’re interested in learning more about our comprehensive range of services and tools related to responsible recruitment and migrant parent support, please take a look at “what we do” on our website or send us an email. From responsible recruitment training for suppliers and sub-contractors, training for auditors and social compliance officers and child rights risk and impact assessments to child labour remediation and migrant parent support programmes, we have your supply chain covered. We look forward to hearing from you.
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