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Cleaners' trip gets mixed response from the public

[ 2011-12-02 15:54]     字号 [] [] []  
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The response has been mixed to a news item in People's Daily about the urban management bureau of Yibin's decision to send 70 cleaners on an overseas study tour.

While a certain section of the public is lauding the move as a show of respect to people belonging to the lower rungs of society, opponents of the idea doubt an overseas trip will lead to improved work standards back home.

Seventy lucky people, who have been named model workers at the Sichuan provincial and Yibin city levels, are representing the city's 15,000-strong community of cleaners, when they visit Singapore and Malaysia in four groups, from Nov 18 to Dec 14.

"The city's finance bureau has paid for the trip, arranged by a local travel agency. The trip costs around 4,800 yuan ($760) for each person," said Li Ke, an official at the urban management bureau.

His bureau did not talk to any department in charge of sanitation in Singapore or Malaysia, preferring to let cleaners find out for themselves how sanitation operations worked in both countries and experience their advanced management methods.

"It was the second time the city government had financed a study tour for model cleaners outside the Chinese mainland," said Yuan Xianyin, an information officer in the city.

He said 61 model workers were sent to Hong Kong and Macao on a study tour last year.

Each year the city chooses and honors model workers from different sectors.

Highly impressed with the way the sanitation sector in Hong Kong and Macao was being upgraded, cleaners who returned from the last trip made suggestions, some of which were applied locally.

Many netizens have applauded flying cleaners abroad, glad that they could enjoy a privilege usually reserved for officials and the rich. But some were skeptical about how much the cleaners will be able to absorb what they saw, given they were not well educated.

He Dayong, deputy chief of the Yibin urban management bureau, admitted that a short trip abroad might not make a substantial difference to the cleaners' work at home.

"Our main goal is to rouse empathy for cleaners through the act, raise their social status and let their work be recognized by all of society," he said.

Chang Mingqing, a cleaner in Chengdu, believed that the act will indeed raise concern for hardworking and poorly paid cleaners nationwide. She appealed to the government to raise cleaners' wages.

"Cleaners are not well paid. Money counts more to them than overseas trips," said the 47-year-old while sweeping the road.

Even Zeng Rong, the model worker in Yibin, draws a monthly salary of only 909 yuan, lower than Beijing's minimum wage of 1,160 yuan.

Netizens suspected some of the officials were piggybacking on the cleaners, using the opportunity to travel on public money.

Liang Tingjiang, chief of the Yibin urban management bureau, showed the list of 78 people visiting Singapore and Malaysia to the Xinhua News Agency during an interview on Tuesday. While 70 of them were cleaners, eight were employed in other capacities in the bureau. Two employees will go with each of the four groups of cleaners, leading the team, he said.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Cleaners' trip gets mixed response from the public

About the broadcaster:

Cleaners' trip gets mixed response from the public

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the US, including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.