Chinese millionaire street sweeper refuses to give up work

January 9, 2013 6:36 pm 0 comments Views: 238

A Chinese millionaire has refused to give up her day job as a street sweeper for fear of losing her work ethic and worrying over her lazy children.

After nearly four decades of hard labour as a farmer, cook, lorry driver and street sweeper, a sudden million pound windfall might tempt sweet thought of retirement.

But 53-year-old Yu Youzhen has a rather more unbending work ethic.

Five years ago, her family land in Donghu village, near the city of Wuhan, was bought by the government for a property development.

She used the compensation money to being building a property empire which now includes 17 apartments worth some 10 million yuan (£1 million), according to the Wuhan Evening News.

Nevertheless, six days a week Mrs Yu dons an orange coat and goes to work as a street sweeper, earning a monthly wage of £142.

“Work is not just about the salary, it makes one focused. Laziness gives rise to all sorts of bad habits,” she said, to the Chinese newspaper.

The head of her cleaning team, Fu Guoju, noted that Mrs Yu had never been late for work and had only asked for three days off in the last 14 years in order to attend the funerals of her mother-in-law and father.

Mrs Yu’s dogged attachment to her orange jacket appears to stem partly from habit and partly from a nagging worry over her feckless children.

Her 33-year-old son, Liang, has had a chequered career, working selling lottery tickets for a while and spending long spells at home, lounging on the sofa.

“I want to be a role model for my children,” said Mrs Yu. “I do not want to sit around idly and eat up my fortune”.

“My son once stayed at home for two months, and I kept scolding him during that time. Now he is doing pretty well. He said to me later I was right. I was worried he would hang out with bad people and ruin our family.”

Her son is currently working as a driver in her home village for £120 a month while her daughter mans the kiosk at a cinema for £200 a month.

Since the Chinese newspapers revealed Mrs Yu’s work ethic she has become a minor celebrity. The Communist party’s propaganda machine has also been quick to pounce on her as an example of a model worker.

“Starting from loving labour and living a meaningful life to make her feel at ease, Yu Youzhen gives us a good starting point,” said the state-run Beijing News in an editorial.

Additional reporting by Valentina Luo

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