Workers in for eight-month wait

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2008, 12:00am

As mainlanders return to work today after the seven-day Lunar New Year break, many will have to wait at least eight months to enjoy another extended national holiday.

Authorities decided last year to cancel the May 1 holiday and replace it with three-day breaks wedged between the week-long Lunar New Year and National Day holidays.

The Lunar New Year festivities usually fall in late January or early February and the National Day holiday runs from October 1 to 7.

For many, such as Beijing information technology consultant Li Zhenkun , the change means the end to a long, officially sanctioned, mid-year break.

'Without the government's enforcement, there is no way my boss will allow me to take annual leave in the middle of the year considering our heavy workload,' Mr Li said. 'It feels like we are being ripped off.'

The mainland introduced the 'golden week' holiday system in 1999, requiring three seven-day breaks spread throughout the year in an effort to foster the tourism industry and encourage people to spend.

People also saw the extended universal holidays as opportunities to spend time with family members who might not otherwise be available.

The cancellation of the week-long May Day holiday will affect many migrant workers stranded by the severe snowstorms before the Lunar New Year and who would have used the mid-year break to see their families.

'There's no way I can make it back to my home in Shaanxi province with a three-day holiday because the train trip alone takes longer than that,' said 'Xiaoshaanxi', an internet chat room contributor.

'The realistic option is to work hard and look forward to a dream Lunar New Year holiday next year.'

National law requires at least five days of paid leave a year for employees with more than a year's service at a company, but few firms follow the rules. In an online survey of more than 74,000 people, nearly 70 per cent of respondents said they dared not force their employers to give them paid leave because of fears about job security and promotion.