Migrant workers' rights stay firm

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-31 07:19

GUANGZHOU: South China's Guangdong Province, home to millions of farmers turned industrial workers, will keep taking employers to task for violating labor laws.

The system was devised to protect workers' rights and make employers follow labour laws. And it appears to be paying off employers paid 1.84 billion yuan ($236 million) in wage arrears to more than 1 million workers last year.

"The special system, implemented at the end of 2005, has helped check the number of employers not paying their staff," Zhang Fengqi, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Labor and Social Security, said yesterday.

A total of 95 companies had been "blacklisted" for serious violation of labor laws and defaulting on wages by the end of last year, Zhang said.

"Any employer found violating labour laws will be exposed through the media, including the Internet, and some public work institutions We are keeping a close eye on employers, and that helped the number of payment default cases to drop last year."

The Guangdong labor authority detected 21,900 cases of payment defaults last year, down by 11.6 percent over 2005.

Guangdong, as one of China's economic powerhouses, has attracted thousands of migrant workers from other provinces and regions over the past two decades, with their present number being more than 21 million, provincial labor authority sources said.

Months of waiting

Many such workers have had to wait for months for their wages, or have been forced to work for more than 10 hours a day because of lack of legal support, Zhang said.

In November, the labor authority began working with the public security department, to begin another province-wide exposure campaign against defaulting employers, he said. The campaign, to last until February, helped reclaim more than 70 million yuan ($8.97 million) by January 10.

"Employees who fail to pay the due wages to their workers face serious punishment. We urge workers to report if they don't get pays," Zhang said.

(China Daily 01/31/2007 page5)

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