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Rights of Migrant Workers Arouse Social Concern

Statistics show that there are now 200 million migrant workers in China. Most of them work in building, coal, catering or cloth-making industries. Migrant workers have contributed greatly to urban development.


However, many migrant workers do not get their payment after work. The Beijing Municipal Legal Aid Station for Migrant Workers recently released a report, which shows that nearly half of the migrant workers have the experience of not being paid. In addition, many migrant workers often can not get proper compensation if they are injured or die on the work site. Statistics show that in China, about 60 billion yuan (US$7.77 billion) of payment or compensation that should be paid to migrant workers are in arrears. How to protect the interests of migrant workers and make sure their wage is paid on time has now aroused great concern among the general public.


On April 6, the Lanzhou Morning Post reported that five migrant workers in Gulang County, Gansu, were abandoned by their boss in a deserted mountainous area only because they asked their boss to pay them their wages.


"We stayed in the mountain for a whole night, feeling cold, hungry, and so helpless. We don't understand why we can't get the money we deserve," a woman migrant worker told this reporter.


In recent years, China has enacted many new laws that deal with migrant workers payment, and their labor protection and social security issues. However, since many migrant workers have not signed any former contracts with their bosses, they are maliciously used by their bosses. Large amounts of money that should be paid to these migrant workers are delayed intentionally.


Professor Zhang from the Gansu University of Political Science and Law urges the government to make more laws to further strengthen the legal protection for migrant workers.


"Deferring workers' payment is not only an issue of delaying several hundred yuan, it actually infringes the wage-earners' right of survival indirectly," he said.


( April 12, 2007)

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