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Migrant Worker's Suggestions Appear in Premier's Work Report

Fan Shusheng was on his way home to central China's Henan Province by train on Monday morning when Premier Wen Jiabao delivered his annual government work report to parliament.


The 37-year-old migrant worker listened to the radio on the train and heard the Premier pledge to extend social security coverage to migrant workers at the opening ceremony of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).


"My proposals have been written into Premier Wen's work report!" an excited Fan told Xinhua on his cell phone.


Fan, 37, was one of a dozen "grassroots personalities" who attended a State Council meeting earlier this year.


On Feb. 6, 12 grassroots representatives from agriculture, technology, transportation and health sectors were invited to Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership compound, to discuss government work plans ahead of the Fifth Session of the 10th NPC.


Fan, who has worked at construction sites in Beijing for 16 years, told the Premier he had came across many problems, such as low income, lack of social security and the difficulty of sending his daughter to school in Beijing, and suffered discrimination from urban residents.


"I proposed that the government pay more attention to the protection of migrant workers' rights and establish policies on these issues," he said.


"Your suggestions are to the point," Premier Wen told Fan at the meeting, adding "the number of migrant workers is increasing and your pension and social security concerns have caught the attention of the central authorities of the Party and the Central Government, and we are working on them."


The total number of migrant workers in Chinese cities is estimated to be around 200 million. A survey released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security showed that low wages and unpaid wages are the biggest headache for the migrant workers.


In Monday's work report, Premier Wen said that the government should establish a social security system specially designed for the migrant workers as soon as possible in 2007.


"The system should especially focus on injury and medical care insurance for serious health concerns," Wen said in the report, which also deals with the problem of migrant children education by emphasizing that "all children should receive affordable schooling and good education."


"I feel that the Premier's promises are directly addressed to me, as all the new policies target the problems I outlined to the Premier," Fan said.


"I am proud to speak for the migrant worker group," he told Xinhua.


Like Fan, Yu Kai, a 47-year-old Beijing taxi driver, who also attended the meeting on Feb. 6, listened to the report carefully in his taxi on Monday morning.


"I understand that the Premier cannot say much about the taxi industry in this report, but I am still satisfied with it," Yu, who has been driving for 22 years, said when reached by Xinhua over phone.


"The report shows that the government cares about common people's livelihood," he said.


In fact, soliciting opinions from people from all walks of life is a decades-old tradition for the government in formulating work reports or major policies.


Premier Wen has opened the door of Zhongnanhai compound wider in recent years by inviting people working on farms or in industrial workshops to discuss government plans.


In last year's government work report, Premier Wen Jiabao absorbed a suggestion put forward by village doctor Ma Wenfang in Henan Province on building a new type of rural cooperative medicare system for villagers.


In this year's report on Monday, the Premier told lawmakers that this system "has been implemented in 1451, or 50.7 percent of Chinese counties, covering 410 million people living in rural areas."


(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2007)

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