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Migrant Workers Get Insurance Benefits

A compulsory insurance program will be introduced in South China's Guangdong Province covering millions of construction workers - most poor farmers who have migrated to cities - for potential accidents on the job.

The new system in Guangdong hopes to further protect the legal interest of the myriad number of workers in the province next year.

A new regulation to guide compensation doled out for accidents is now being drafted and is expected to come into effect starting in 2005.

Farmers-turned workers make up the majority of employees at construction sites and will be the largest beneficiaries of the new regulation.

"All contractors and construction companies will have to purchase insurance for their builders beginning next year, or they will not be allowed to contract and construct any project in the province," said Chen Yingsong, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Commission of Construction.

And the insurance compensation will be worth at least 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) for a person who is seriously injured or killed in a construction-related accident, Chen said.

The cities of Qingyuan and Nanxiong in the northern part of the province will become pilot areas where the new system will begin later this year.

And the extra expenses for insurance will have to be paid by contractors and construction companies and cannot be apportioned to builders, Chen said.

The move to use a new system is aimed at reducing construction accidents and protecting builders' legal interest, Chen added.

He estimated Guangdong now has more than 5 million construction workers who have come from around the country. Of them, few have bought insurance to cover accidents, Chen said.

The new system comes after 54 people were killed in construction accidents in 46 incidents in the first six months of this year in Guangdong. The figures have grown by 42 percent and 33 percent from the corresponding months in the previous year.

Another three persons were also seriously injured in the construction accidents in the first half of this year.

None of the victims received enough compensation from their employers because laws and regulations did not adequately support their lawsuits, Chen said.

Accidents in the construction industry have become a major killer of workers.

Guangdong, which is enjoying rapid economic growth, has plenty of construction projects, attracting a large number of builders from around the country, Chen said.

(China Daily September 6, 2004)

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