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Outstanding pay still plagues workforce
(China Daily) Updated:2005-12-27 09:21

  New Year is around the corner. For migrant workers, it is time to collect wage packets and prepare for the trip home.

  But for some this is a time for conflict with bosses who fail to produce the money their workers are entitled to, in return for their hard work.

  The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Labour and Social Security, Municipal Commission of Construction, Municipal Bureau of Public Security and Municipal Federation of Trade Unions have jointly launched a campaign to investigate whether migrant workers in the capital are being paid on time or not.

  A hotline established by a non-governmental organization was kept busy last week, with more than 100 calls from migrant workers concerned about pay in arrears.

  Volunteer lawyers engaged by the NGO have already helped some get their money.

  But in general, migrant workers being denied their wages has been a hard nut to crack for some years.

  In 2003 Premier Wen Jiabao gave a helping hand to Xiong Deming, a farmer from Sichuan Province, to assist her in obtaining the pay her husband was owed.

  Efforts to help workers have been made by various government institutions and organizations ever since. Regulations concerning this matter have been released to punish those who withhold wages.

  Premier Wen promised in his work report in 2004 that the problem would be solved in three years.

  Statistics from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Labour and Social Security show the municipal authorities dealt with 4,450 such cases from January to October this year, and successfully demanded 250 million yuan (US$30 million) for 157,900 workers.

  On the one hand, the figure indicates the Beijing municipal government has done a great deal to protect the rights of migrant workers. But on the other hand, it demonstrates this is a massive problem that requires attention from governments at various levels.

  There are regulations concerning this problem. Some migrant workers have benefited from relevant rules, where they are carried out to the letter by the firms they work for. But it is apparent that more needs to be done to punish managers who fail to pay their employees.

  Migrant workers must be made aware that they can seek help from the government or legal system if their rights are infringed upon.

  Some have resorted to extreme measures when demanding outstanding pay.

  Wang Binyu, a migrant worker in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, killed four people in a rage when he tried in vain to get his hands on the 5,000 yuan (US$617) that his boss owed him.

  This tragedy is a lesson for both migrant workers and the government.

  The former group must learn to use legal means to protect their rights and interests. The latter must make sure that all legal channels are open to migrant workers.

  There are still two years to go before the problem is completely settled, according to the State Council schedule. We hope this matter will not be a topic for discussion in the media in two years.




















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