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Migrant Workers to Get Injury Insurance

The government will increase efforts to cover at least 10 million migrant workers with industrial injury insurance next year.

Chen Gang, head of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security's Workplace Injury Insurance Division, said work would focus on extending cover in major cities where migrant workers are concentrated, especially to those working in high-risk sectors such as mining, the chemical industry and construction.

Chen told a national symposium on workplace injury cover in Tianjin that greater efforts were needed to encourage migrant workers in the service sector to buy insurance. At the moment, over 22 million migrant workers enjoy coverage.

But this is in the face of China's economic boom having driven an unprecedented army of about200 million people from farms towards factories, construction sites and mines.

A survey by the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) in nine provinces showed that migrant workers accounted for 80 percent of China's 30 million construction workers. They also made up 56 percent of workers in the mining and dangerous chemical sectors as well as fireworks factories.

The survey also showed almost all the workers at small and state-owned collieries were migrant workers.

Poor safety facilities, slack safety rules and the lack of proper training made migrant workers the most vulnerable group in terms of work safety.

The government has long pushed for wider insurance coverage in industries such as coal mining and construction.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security in May launched a nationwide, three-year program, known as "Safety Action", with the purpose of bringing all migrant workers in highly risk sectors under the protection of the workplace injury insurance system.

Hu Xiaoyi, Vice Minister of Labor and Social Security, said the government aimed to have 140 million people covered by 2010.

(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2006)

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