Li woos state firm employees
Premier Li Peng has visited state-run enterprises in Liaoning province to woo support from poverty-stricken workers.
During the visit to the Anshan Iron and Steel Corp (Angang), the largest steel company in the country, Mr Li acknowledged hardship facing state firm workers and showered them with encouraging words which fell short of concrete deeds.
The premier reiterated the importance of state-run enterprises as the 'pillar of socialism', despite setbacks suffered by these enterprises under market reforms.
Large number of workers employed in state-run companies have been laid off.
Mr Li urged them to unite and acquire new skills through retraining programmes.
'Labourers should mobilise themselves to struggle against the woeful economic situation,' he said.
'Party officials, the government and the entire society will offer warm support and encouragement. Officials should help to solve the problems of the people, especially those in state-owned enterprises,' he said.
In the giant Angang complex, 120,000 of 500,000 people there are retirees or 'suspended' workers.
The premier said Angang was a model for state-run firms facing reform.
He also praised the minimum wage security system launched in Anshan county, which guaranteed the livelihood of poor workers.
'Such welfare policy suits China's conditions and pace of economic development,' the premier said.
Liaoning, saddled with outdated mines and factories, is one of the hardest-hit provinces.
Last September, 16.4 per cent of its 8.53 million labourers subsisted on dole payments.
The area has in the past year been visited by top leaders including the President, Jiang Zemin , and economic tsar Zhu Rongji , who are eager to head off any social unrest.