Migrant workers need protection

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-03 07:49
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Wu Wenkui, a migrant worker, held a woman hostage in Kunming three months ago to draw public attention and compel his supervisor to pay his wages. He was released recently after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. The incident shows how vulnerable migrant workers are. Governments should take more measures to protect the rights of migrant workers, or else the entire society will suffer, says an article in Oriental Morning Press. Excerpts:

The release of Wu Wenkui has come as good news. The migrant worker held a woman hostage for eight hours in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, in October to raise public awareness over his plight and compel his supervisor to pay his wages. He did not cause any harm to the woman, but was arrested for his crime. He was released recently after doctors declared that he was suffering from schizophrenia.

As reported, the 32-year-old is a poor and decent man. He took the drastic step because he had no money to buy food or place to sleep. For some time he was forced to sleep out in the open. In such situations, it is hard for a peaceful but desperate man to think reasonably.

Wu is not the only migrant worker to have taken an extreme step to get his due. Many other desperate workers have done the same: they have jumped off buildings, attacked their employers or abducted people to get injustice. And if measures are not taken to ensure migrant workers are paid properly and timely more such incidents will recur.

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Many employers delay or deny payment to migrant workers. This phenomenon has been going on for several years, forcing the victimized migrant workers to believe that their rights will be protected only if they arouse public attention.

Initially, such migrant workers tried to draw attention by threatening to jump off buildings, some even did so. But others realized it was the families of the victimized workers that suffered after they killed themselves. The same was the case when they attacked their employers and were arrested and put behind bars. So they began resorting to other means, such as abduction.

Wu and other workers have broken the law to get their hard earned money because they were not left with any other choice. If employers do not pay migrant workers properly and in time, society as a whole will have to shoulder the burden. That's why we should have rules that ensure employers do not violate the law.