According to People's Daily, the number of courier packages delivered in China in 2016 jumped from less than 5.7 billion in 2012 to 31.28 billion, keeping a 50-percent annual growth rate.
By early 2016, China already had 1.18 million couriers. This is an industry thriving on low labor costs. In order to ensure healthy and sustainable development of the industry, it's important to improve the labor and social security of these workers.
Delivering packages is intensive physical work. On average, 86.4 percent of couriers in China have to work more than eight hours and 24.7 percent of them work longer than 12 hours per day. They generally drive and walk 70-80 km on the streets each day. However, it's debatable if they have additional allowances for working out in the open during high-temperature days, overtime pay or social security insurance. Providing all this is the responsibility of the express companies. They are also aspects the relevant authorities should monitor.
The fact is, more than 90 percent of couriers do not have any labor contract and don't enjoy any social security. As a result, people usually do not work for long in this sector and some of them may lack a sense of responsibility, both of which can affect service quality.
To tackle this, there must be stable courier teams, which demands a well-developed social security system including labor contracts, basic welfare and incentive mechanisms.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Workers' Daily on August 18)