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More migrant workers celebrating festival in city
Updated: 2005-02-12 10:14

Just like Shanghai citizens, migrant workers Hua Yun and husband went to the Jing'an Temple in downtown Shanghai on the first day of China's Rooster Year, burning incense and praying in front of Buddha for a good salary and a smooth life in the coming year.

Although the Spring Festival is the most important family reunion holiday for Chinese people, Hua, 28, born in Yingshang County, east China's Anhui Province, chose to celebrate the holiday in bustling Shanghai, where she has worked for eight years.

"I have become accustomed to the life in Shanghai. I enjoy the comfortable living conditions here and, more importantly, the cityhas started to give migrant workers a more fair and friendly atmosphere to let us merge in the true city life," said Hua.

Hua, whose monthly salary is 120 US dollars, lives in a 28 square meter apartment in the Taoyuancun Community, a suburb of the city. The other 1,500 residents in the community are also migrant workers. Half of them chose to spend the Spring Festival in Shanghai rather than going back home.

Pan Bingqing, 16 and born in Huangyan County of Zhejiang Province, is one of Hua's neighbors. Pan grew up in Shanghai and can speak fluent Shanghai dialect. "Except that I had no Shanghai permanent household registry document, my life was no different with other young Shanghai girls," Pan said.

There are three million migrant workers currently living and working in Shanghai and two thirds of them have social security insurance, which previously only urban residents could have.

There were 140 million migrant workers in China in 2004. The Chinese government started to put more attention on safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers. The landmark event was Premier Wen Jiabao helping a migrant worker collect defaulted salary in 2003. Since then a campaign to help all migrant workers retrieve defaulted salaries was launched nationwide, and China's legislature is considering a regulation toensure migrant workers get paid on time.

Except for getting their salaries on time, migrant workers havebegun to get more social respect. In Hangzhou, another booming city in east China, the municipal government prepared a feast on New Year's Eve for more than 1,000 migrant workers who could not go back home for family reunions.

A migrant worker surnamed Lu from Houzhou County, east China's Anhui Province appeared excited when invited to the feast. "I've worked in Hangzhou for several years, and this is the first time I've been treated to a feast by the city authorities."

In Haikou, capital of south China's Hainan Province, the municipal government opened its library for free during the SpringFestival for migrant workers.

Luo Qiping, from southwest China's Guizhou Province and workingat a construction site near the city's library, spent the Spring Festival holiday reading there.

"I don't have too much money to pursue other entertainment. Therefore reading newspapers in the library is the best choice forme to spend the holiday. Through newspapers, I learned that dramatic changes were underway in my hometown and learned how to use legal means to safeguard my legitimate rights," Luo said.

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