Han Yunpeng, Han Zhaojian and Mao Zhongyu are construction workers. They live in a prefab dormitory, with its typical white walls and blue frames, on a construction site at Jiu Xianqiao. Workers at the construction site come from various provinces in China. However, all roommates in their room come from the same village in Jining, Shandong province. Around 1,300 people live in their village and two third of them share the family name “Han”. Han Yunpeng, Han Zhaojian and Mao Zhongyu tell us that they were already good friends before they came to Beijing.
Workers at the site (for a new subway line) have one week of day shifts, followed by a week of night shifts. They get paid when the construction project is finished. This pay depends on their working hours. The more hours they work, the more money they will get. That’s why they seldom ask for a leave. Usually they work seven days a week and they won’t go back to their hometown, except for the Spring Festival and the harvest season. On average they can make 3,000 RMB each month. Not having to pay for rent or meals, they spend very little money each day.
When asked what they intend to do with the money they save, they say it is for their children’s education and they save money for the future weddings of their children.
Each of them has a son in their hometown. Han Yunpeng’s son is in his twenties and studies medicine at a school in Jining. The tuition is 600 RMB per month. Next to that, Han Yunpeng sends 1,000 RMB per month to his son for the cost of living. “He needs a good nutrition”.
Han Zhaojian says that nowadays there are more people working in big cities than growing crops in their hometown. Usually the women take care of the crops.
Living under the same roof at the construction site drives them closer to each other. In their spare time, says Mao Zhongyu, they read newspapers and magazines and go out for a walk on the street. Sometimes they go shopping to buy gifts for their family. The prices are affordable.
When asked about their lives in Beijing, they are all very satisfied. The work conditions are good because they work on a government project. The food is fine and they get drinks (BaiJiu) and fruits at the end of the year. The room is heated by an air conditioner and they can call their families whenever they want.