How “hot” are construction workers these days?


*This article is the original content of “Sanlian Life Weekly”

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The construction industry is a pillar industry in China

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Construction workers are also the main force of migrant workers in cities

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There is one construction worker in every five migrant workers

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But now, even under high wages, the number of construction workers is getting smaller and smaller

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They are getting older and facing the succession fault of the younger generation

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Reporter | Huang Ziyi photography | Huang Yu grabs people in the process of urbanization, the construction site is an indispensable main battlefield

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The rotating yellow tower crane, the smooth glass curtain wall and the workers wearing safety helmets working on the shelves make the site a busy place all the time

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A construction site usually starts at 6 a.m

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and gets off work at 6 p.m

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– this is just a clear statement

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Many times, workers have to add night shifts of at least 2 hours and up to 4-5 hours after work to catch up with the expected construction speed

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According to the contract, each construction site has construction period pressure at each stage, and it shall be delivered on time, otherwise it will be in breach of contract

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Zhang long, 32, often faces this pressure

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He is a production manager of the Beijing Branch of China Construction Second Bureau

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In a construction project, this position is mainly responsible for ensuring the adequacy and timely arrival of manpower, materials and mechanical equipment, and managing the construction period and progress

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In the past two years, Zhang long has been living in Lize business district, Fengtai District, Beijing

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He is responsible for one or two major local projects and goes to the field to check the progress at least twice a day

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Even in the temporary office on the construction site, he frowned, lit a cigarette from time to time, and watched the real-time situation of the construction site behind him through the window

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China’s urban construction is inseparable from these construction workers

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Lize business district is the last large-scale land that has not been fully developed within the Third Ring Road of Beijing

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The D07 project under Zhang Long’s charge is a high-end urban complex jointly developed by four well-known real estate developers, which has both residential and commercial functions

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With a total construction area of 119000 square meters, there are two apartment buildings C and D, both of which are 21 floors, About 100 meters high

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According to Zhang long, Party A and the company attach great importance to the project and propose to build the project according to the standard of “National High Quality Engineering Award” as a benchmark project in Beijing

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On May 15, 2020, the project was officially started

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Zhang Long entered the site together with more than 200 workers of the subcontractor

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It is planned to be completed and officially delivered on May 25, 2022

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In 2021, Zhang Long increasingly feels that the burden on his shoulders is heavy

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Since the project should be built according to the highest standards, all building materials are the best, but in the building materials market, the price rise tide began to hit in 2021

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The price of steel bar has soared from 4500 yuan / ton in February 2020 to nearly 7000 yuan / ton, and the price of copper has risen from about 40000 yuan / ton to more than 80000 yuan / ton, and the cost has been rising

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More importantly, the wages of construction workers are also rising, and there was a shortage of workers

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For example, in the construction of the underground works of two buildings, due to the high engineering requirements and exquisite technology, but the number of people is limited, the progress can not be improved for a time

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According to the schedule, the underground works of the two buildings will be completed in late December 2020, but by early July 2020, the project has just started for two months, Zhang long felt that the progress was less than expected

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He and his team were nearly half a month away

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The two 100m high-rise buildings of D07 project seem to be independent, and the underground space is open

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In such a 100 meter high-rise building, the working area of the foundation part is much larger than that of the ground part

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There are 4 floors and 36000 square meters underground, 21 meters deep

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Excavators can dig large pits, but in the later construction of datum level, a large number of workers are required to do well in reinforcement cutting and binding, formwork erection and concrete pouring, so as to ensure the realization of “positive and negative zero” on time, which means that the main project reaches the datum level

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In popular words, the underground works are basically completed and the aboveground works can be carried out

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According to the contract, only when “plus or minus zero” is realized on time, can they get the project payment of the previous stage as the construction unit“ In fact, we have estimated many special situations, but we didn’t expect to be very nervous

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” Zhang Long said he estimated that the manpower gap at that time was more than 50%

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When making project planning, the team takes into account the influencing factors of employment

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When the construction team entered the site in May, they considered the labor gap during the May Day holiday and the busy farming in the Central Plains in July, and made a communication and plan with the labor subcontracting company in advance

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However, in the face of the gap of more than 100 ~ 200 workers, Zhang long was in a mess and couldn’t sleep for a time

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He tried to find more workers, but found that in the huge North China market, workers became rare and labor prices rose greatly

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Compared with a year ago, the price of a small worker responsible for dumping construction waste and cleaning the construction site has increased from more than 200 yuan / day to 300 yuan / day, while the price of a large worker with technical content has generally increased from 300-400 yuan / day to 400-500 yuan / day

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Behind this is the structural problem faced by the construction industry

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Construction industry is a pillar industry in China, and construction workers are also the main force of migrant workers in cities

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There is one construction worker in every five migrant workers

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However, the number of this group is gradually decreasing

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According to the quality monitoring report of Chinese migrant workers released by the National Bureau of statistics from 2014 to 2019, the number of construction workers decreased from 61.09 million to 52.26 million in five years, and the proportion in the total number of migrant workers decreased from 22.3% to 18.3%

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The remaining 52 million people are also getting older

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In recent years, the overall aging degree of migrant workers in China has been deepening, and the average age has continued to rise to 40.8 years old

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One of every four migrant workers is over 50 years old

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This is more obvious at construction sites

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In April 2021, outside the fence of D07 construction site, I could see that many workers over 50 years old were dealing with building materials

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Walking into the project office, an intelligent site system display shows the age structure of more than 200 workers in the site: 46.6% of the workers are 45-55 years old and are the main force of the site, while nearly 20% of the workers are over 55 years old and only 2.1% are under 25 years old

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Li Jiaxing, chief engineer of D07 project, used the intelligent system screen to show the age structure of site workers

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These aging construction workers “are going to ‘rob’,” said a construction labor manager in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei“ The most popular place of “robbing people” is xiong’an new area

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In May 2020, after the domestic epidemic situation recovered, the start-up area of xiong’an new area started construction on a large scale, attracting more than 100000 construction workers to participate in the construction

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The call from xiong’an also indirectly pushed up the market price and the wages of construction workers

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In xiong’an, in order to “rob people”, some units will use the method of daily settlement to “send cash directly and settle on the same day”

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The wages of local workers can now be opened to 500 ~ 600 yuan / day, and once rose to 800 ~ 900 yuan / day during the Spring Festival, excluding overtime pay

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Even so, we can’t keep the workers who want to go home

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The peak employment period of D07 project coincides with the construction period of xiong’an

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During that time, Zhang Long “basically never stopped calling” every day, connected with labor companies and construction teams, and looked for a team of workers to complete the task

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They and their subcontractors decided to look for “commandos” in the market

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Thanks to some long-term cooperative relations of the subcontracting labor service units, after making countless calls, they finally found two labor service companies and a total of 67 teams, bringing a “commando” of 150-200 people

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From then on, 400 to 500 people worked overtime in winter in Beijing, working at least until more than 10 p.m

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every day, and finally achieved “plus or minus zero” before the agreed date.

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