Struggles of Chinese delivery staff merit more attention

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/15 20:38:40

Struggles of delivery staff merit more attention


An internal letter attributed to Liu Qiangdong, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, said JD Logistics ended the base salary for delivery staff because the subsidiary must end a 12-year string of losses through reforms. If losses continue at the current scale, the subsidiary would only have enough money for two more years, Liu said.

JD.com has the largest logistics division in China's e-commerce sector, with many delivery staff. Rural migrant workers with little work experience and scant education can still have a chance to be a delivery worker in China, so JD.com provides employment for many low-skilled people.

Those people have less ability to find new jobs amid a slowing economy and are always sensitive to base salary changes. It is likely that JD.com can perhaps tide over its difficulties through reforms, but its grass-roots staff in such segments as logistics may be less flexible in this regard. 

In the past few years, the rapid growth of China's consumer internet has altered almost every aspect of daily life, but growth is easing as economic expansion decelerates. A gloomy outlook for growth in some enterprises is the reason behind some internet tycoons embracing the "996" schedule: working 12 hours a day from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week. Although JD.com has expressed opposition to the "996" overtime culture, Liu reportedly said recently that in his company, "slackers are not my brothers." It seems financial pressure on China's internet companies is being transmitted to the level of grass-roots staff.

The express delivery industry may be the first to feel the impact. In 2018, workers in China's express delivery handled more parcels than the US, Japan and EU combined. It is difficult to estimate how many staff are involved in the delivery sector, but the figure isn't small. Following the end of the golden era for China's real estate sector, the delivery industry has replaced the construction sector as a magnet for low-skilled rural migrant workers, serving as a stabilizer for China's labor market. 

China has taken effective steps to promote and stabilize employment, but salary and possible job cuts in the delivery sector deserve more attention.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn
Newspaper headline: Struggles of delivery staff merit more attention


Posted in: EYE ON ECONOMY

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