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6.5 Mln Migrant Workers to Join Trade Unions

An expected 6.5 million migrant workers across China will join trade unions this year, according to a senior Chinese official.

Xu Deming, vice president of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), said at a press conference on Thursday that by the year 2008, 70 percent of the 120 million migrant workers will be trade union members.

In the course of industrialization and urbanization in China, surplus rural laborers move to cities, thus forming a large population of migrant workers. Most of them work in private business firms with 71 percent working in the construction trade.

However, migrant workers, who play an increasingly important role in urban construction, have faced problems such as having their pay withheld and forced overtime.

"These problems have drawn great attention from Chinese government," Xu said. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao mentioned many times that the interests of migrant workers should be safeguarded in his report on the work of government at the ongoing Fourth Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, on March 5.

Citing that migrant workers who have joined trade unions account for only 13.8 percent of the total, Xu said they should be more active in securing fair treatment with the help of mass organization.

Latest statistics show that China has more than 150 million trade union members.

Xu revealed that the ACFTU will further expand trade unions at grass-root levels by recruiting 10 million members or more this year.

He stressed that trade unions at all levels should carry out research and establish institutions to safeguard migrant workers' interests.

Migrant workers are welcome to join trade unions in their hometown and in groups, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2006)

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