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Songs, Kisses and Sweat on Labor Day of Migrant Workers

While more and more citizens choose to celebrate their week-long May Day holiday by traveling, migrant workers greet it with songs, kisses and sweat.


On the construction site of the No.1 hospital affiliated to the Jilin University in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, an open performance by local theaters received applauses from the over 2,000 workers.


"I have never idled away my time in such a performance in the five years since I came here," grinned Liu Guoqing from east China's Jiangsu Province. "Today the traditional dance-duet dispelled all my fatigue."


In the prosperous metropolis of Shanghai, migrant workers even joined in performances, singing and dancing and taking part in games to show their talents.


In central China's Wuhan City, ten migrant worker couples got married in a group wedding ceremony.


You Xingbing and his bride Xiong Lijuan are both from Hubei and have been working in Wuhan for 13 and eight years. "Thanks to the government for realizing our dream of a grand wedding ceremony, and thanks to all the participants -- those we know and those we don't know -- for witnessing our love," said the excited bridegroom, kissing his attired bride.


Yin Weizhen, vice mayor of Wuhan, presented the couples with crystal souvenirs. Local government also footed the bill for their full dresses, banquet and a night in a four-star hotel.


"I hope that the migrant workers could feel the warmth and harmony of Wuhan by sharing the fruit of the city's development," said Wang Li, a city government official in charge of construction work.


In Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, 30 migrant workers were selected as model workers, an honor migrant workers enjoyed for the first time in the city. They made up for nearly eight percent of all the model workers there.


Liu Juncai from Dingzhou City of Hebei felt encouraged after being given the honor. "It is not just my personal honor, but a recognition of the society to the migrant workers like me," he said.


In Beijing, Yang Shenggang was busy operating a crane on the construction site of an Olympic stadium. The young man from China's most populous Henan Province was among the some 5,300 workers toiling there.


"Beijing is in a critical period for Olympic construction, how could we rest at this time," said Yang while taking a drink.


It is estimated there are 150 million migrant workers in cities who help boost the country's booming economy. But their life has been shadowed by delay of payment and poor working conditions.


In Kunming, capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province, 30-year-old Luo Huaxin was wielding a hoe under the scorching sun.


"I don't dare to rest, as rest means less money," said the sun-tanned man wiping his sweat.


Their wages were paid in line with their work. Digging one meter in the ground could entitle them to four yuan (about US$0.5).


Therefore, rest was the least thing Luo expected, unless on rainy days or he was badly ill.


Although in some areas of China like Chongqing Municipality and coastal city of Qingdao in east China, migrant workers could enjoy paid holiday, a lot more have to work every day so as to earn more money.


"Concerning our real situation, it is not likely that all migrant workers are granted with paid holidays now," said Yu Bo with the Yunnan provincial trade union. "But we could help enhance their legal awareness and teach them to protect their lawful rights."


In fact, paid holiday is not what Luo Huaxin desired. "It doesn't matter really if I have to work on holidays, as long as we could get our overtime wages," said the man.


(Xinhua News Agency May 2, 2007)

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