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Fair system key to end pay defaults
( 2004-01-10 00:20) (China Daily)

When the nation is making high-profile efforts to help migrant workers get their defaulted pay, Hu Weiguo, a rural resident of Central China's Hubei Province, died from a fall at the construction site where he worked shortly after asking for his owed payment on January 2.

Police and the judicial department will find out those who are responsible for Hu's death. But the government can hardly shake off its responsibility for the systematic default.

Hu, his wife and some fellow workers first turned to his boss, and later to the person in charge of the building enterprise. They then went to the local labour and judicial departments for help. But after all these efforts, they still could not get their money back.

Now that Hu's death has prodded all related departments to move, we can expect the problem to be solved soon.

Prior to his death, however, have all concerned parties performed their duties?

Such is a typical case deserving government intervention when construction companies or labour contractors play default on paying migrant workers on time. Silence on the part of authorities over such behaviour would only fail the general public.

Governments at all levels are taking a number of measures, such as requiring construction companies to pay temporary employees on a monthly base or setting up labour companies to pay those workers directly.

These are all noteworthy moves. But such technical measures are still far from enough. In the aspect of the social system, migrant workers should be given more say in protecting their own rights.

They should be allowed to speak concerning legislation and administration in different cities, and be given the right to terminate rules and regulations of prejudice. Trade unions should be established for migrant workers, enabling them to negotiate for their interests. If all these do not work, legal channels should be provided to settle disputes.

Courts at all levels should not trifle on such labour contract cases but should swiftly undertake investigation, hearing and enforcement of these matters. This is the bottom line in protecting the legal rights of migrant workers.

Only by solving the problem with a fair social system could repetitions of Hu's tragedy be prevented.

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