SHANGHAI China wants the millions of coal and steel workers expected to be laid off in the next few years to be retrained, relocated or retired early as it tries to limit unrest while it tries to combat structural problems in its industrial sector.
The government issued guidelines, dated April 7 but made public late on Friday, from the labour ministry and six other government bodies, billed as "opinions" that outline a range of measures to keep unemployment low.
Firms that create new jobs by going online, developing new industries or products, or expanding markets at home or abroad should be given support, it said.
Workers should receive free job training, local authorities should deepen cooperation across regions to relocate redundant workers to where there are employment opportunities and firms should consider letting workers take early retirement, it said.
"Appropriate placement of workers is a crucial part of the work of dissolving excess capacity," the notice said. (here)
"It affects the smooth implementation of supply-side structural reforms, and it affects the direct interests of workers and the overall stability of reform and development."
As China's economy slows, the government has pledged to slash overcapacity in labour-intensive industries including coal and steel but this has prompted fears the country might face its fiercest unemployment pressures since the late 1990s.
In March, sources told Reuters that China aims to lay off between five and six million state workers in the next two to three years as part of efforts to curb industrial overcapacity and pollution, its boldest retrenchment programme for 20 years.
The leadership would spend nearly 150 billion yuan ($23 billion) covering the cost of the layoffs in the coal and steel sectors alone over the next two to three years.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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