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Trade Unions to Offer More Support to Migrant Workers

China's trade unions will play a more active role in protecting the legal rights of migrant workers, who are more frequently infringed than their counterparts with a permanent urban residence.

"We aim to develop a further 6 million trade union members among migrant workers to better protect their rights," Gu Changsheng, director of the Information and Education Department of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, was quoted by China Daily as saying.

Salaries of many migrant workers are delayed in payment and many of the workers are not covered by social insurance, said the newspaper.

"Trade unions will be able to support the migrant workers when they meet difficulties," Gu said.

He also vowed to provide legal services to those migrant workers when their rights are infringed.

Meanwhile, health and safety of migrant workers was also being given priority by the federation.

Trade unions will strengthen supervision over labor, health and safety this year, especially in highly dangerous industries and industries that contain large numbers of migrant workers, Gu said.

Over 5 million migrant workers are expected to receive safety education this year.
Furthermore, the federation plans to promote the abolishment of laws and policies that prejudice migrant workers, for example the practice of charging them extra fees.

Statistics show that the 120 million farmers-turned-workers account for over half of the whole manual and service industry labor population in China. But only 13.8 percent of the migrant workers were involved in trade unions.

As many private companies are unwilling to set up labor movements, independent trade unions will be established to invite more migrant worker members, according to Yang Honglin, vice-director of the federation's department for grass-roots construction.

A total of 5 million yuan (US$616,500) was invested to aid migrant workers in difficulty during the forthcoming Spring Festival holiday. Those who are unable to afford transportation back home due to a lack of salary payments will be assisted.

(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2006)

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