China, the world’s top steel and coal producer and consumer, today said it plans to offer free retraining to 500,000 workers made redundant during its massive capacity cuts in the strategic steel and coal sectors this year. Subsidies will go to employers that re-employ laid-off staff in other posts inside the company, and the government will offer free retraining, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security Lu Aihong said.
In 2016, the central government spent over 30 billion yuan (4.4 billion U.S. dollars) in providing aid to 726,000 employees affected by the downsizing of the two heavy industries.The work has to continue as another 50 million tonnes of steel production capacity and at least 150 million tonnes of coal capacity will be cut this year, the official Xinhua news agency reported.According to preliminary forecasts, the coal and steel sectors will see combined laid-offs of around 1.8 million. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of steel and coal. Cutting overcapacity is a high priority as the two industries have become a major drag on growth.
China retired 45 million tonnes of steel and 250 million tonnes of coal production capacity by the end of October last year, meeting its full-year goals ahead of schedule. Steel capacity will be cut between 100 million tonnes and 150 million tonnes by 2020, while about a half billion tonnes of coal capacity is scheduled to be slashed in the next three to five years. In 2017, it is important to phase out excess capacity through reforms, Premier Li Keqiang had said last year, highlighting further steps in mergers and acquisitions in steel enterprises, and the integration of coal mining and power generation.