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Better Protection for Migrant Workers in Beijing

Beijing's municipal government will issue migrant workers at construction sites free multi-functional identity cards this year to prevent wage defaults and facilitate management.

The card can be used for banking, as an identity document for insurance purposes, training courses, and as a work attendance record.

The Beijing municipal construction committee announced yesterday it will issue 600,000 such cards to migrant workers in the city's construction industry.

Projects that have a construction area of more than 5,000 sq m or costs more than 5 million yuan (US$647,000) and a construction period of more than six months, must ensure that more than 95 percent of the migrant workers have the card.

Tao Liming, president of the Postal Savings Bank of China, said each card has a corresponding deposit book, which contractors can deposit wages into.

"With the card, migrant workers will not have to carry a lot of cash with them when they return to their hometowns," he said.

The card also provides information to the public security and labor departments so they can keep abreast of the city's floating population, said Sui Zhenjiang, director the Beijing committee.

The committee will closely monitor the implementation of the card, he said.

Action will be taken against companies that refuse to promote the card.

"We will expose the companies which do not pay wages on time in the media," Sui said.

Migrant workers can inform the committee by calling 6358-5182 if their company refuses to apply for the cards.

"It is indeed a good thing," said Zhang Jianmin, a migrant worker from Central China's Hubei Province, working at a construction site near the Worker's Stadium.

"I hope the government enforces proper surveillance to ensure the card works well," he said.

Last year the city's construction companies defaulted 1.628 billion yuan (US$211 million) in wages.

(China Daily April 26, 2007)

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