Deputy keeps pianos, workers' rights in tune

China Daily Updated: 2024-02-26

Senior piano technician Lei Chunhua has promoted pianos made in China around the world and, as a deputy to the National People's Congress, has served as an advocate for flexibly employed workers, helping to seek benefits for them.

Born in Nan'an, Fujian province, Lei has long ties with music, as her mother was a trumpeter. She began devoting herself to learning piano tuning in 1998 and got a job at the Yichang Jinbao Instrument Manufacturing Co in Hubei province in 2001.

At the company, she started working as a piano technician, a job that involves tuning, repairing, replacing and regulating piano parts.

"It's not easy to become a senior technician in the industry. It requires painstaking efforts, practice and lengthy concentration," the 41-year-old said.

Lei traveled to many countries, including Japan, Austria and Germany, to hone her piano technician skills in the past 20 years.

A piano has over 9,000 components, more than 200 strings and 88 keys, each of which has its own tonality. Lei said she has strict standards for her work, as ensuring a piano is properly tuned and voiced — meaning that it has good tonal quality — is the final and most important step in crafting the instrument.

"I've been involved in the industry for over 20 years, and I'm very pleased to see our homemade pianos have been gaining higher recognition from the world in recent years," she said.

"I will never forget that our national piano brand Yangtze River was used at the International Tchaikovsky Competition — one of the world's highest-level music competitions — for the first time in 2019. That was a great honor to us piano technicians."

As a senior technician at the company, Lei is responsible for training apprentices and organizing lectures.

Beyond her work duties, she also endeavors to ensure that the rights of flexibly employed workers are protected, and she has strived to obtain benefits for them since her election as a deputy to the NPC, the top legislature, last year.

"I have a responsibility to learn about other people's lives and speak for them," she said.

"Unlike us regular workers who have sound social security coverage and labor contracts, flexibly employed people such as food deliverymen and ride-hailing drivers may have working rights disputes with their platforms or companies due to incomplete labor contracts and vague labor relations."

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China had about 200 million people engaged in flexible jobs at the end of 2021. A recent report by Jinan University in the southern province of Guangdong and the recruitment portal Zhaopin said flexible employment now encompasses about 20 percent of China's workforce.

Last year, Lei suggested that companies offer more flexible jobs to job seekers to help reduce the burdens of people in poorer financial shape.

She said she will continue to speak for flexible workers at the coming two sessions — the annual gatherings of the NPC and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference — and stay focused on obtaining benefits for them.

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