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Insurance a must for high-risk industries
By Fu Jing and Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-21 23:53

Employers in high-risk sectors, including China's infamous coal mines, now have to pay compulsory injury insurance for their workers.

Social security officials said no safety licenses, necessary for any high-risk company to start operation, will be issued to enterprises which fail to bring workers under the social security umbrella.

Sales staff of China Life Insurance Group talk during a business promotion in Zhengzhou, March 19, 2005. [newsphoto/file]  
Sun Zhi, an insurance official with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, told China Daily that the measure is being jointly implemented by his ministry and the State Administration of Work Safety to improve the currently grave workplace safety situation.

Sun spoke to China Daily Following the ministry's press conference announcing an urban registered jobless rate of 4.2 per cent for the first quarter this year, a figure similar to figures for the last quarter of 2004.

Previous to the new policy, most employees in high-risk sectors, often migrant workers, were not covered by work injury insurance and many disputes arose when accidents took place.

Now employers must pay injury insurance fees and tell their employees about the policy, said Sun.

The insurance will cover various types of injuries, including those suffered during business trips and vehicle accidents, injuries occurring on the way to or from work, and injuries suffered during emergency rescue operations.

By the end of March, injury insurance covered a total of 70.09 million workers and Sun's ministry vowed that 75 million workers would be covered by the end of the year.

Vice-Minister of Labour Wang Dongjin recently said migrant workers and those working in high-risk sectors will be the first to be brought under the insurance requirement.

So far, there are a total of 130 million migrant workers nationwide, employed mainly in the construction, mining and manufacturing sectors.

In their press conference, the ministry said nearly 99 per cent of migrant workers' unpaid wages from 2003 had been settled by March this year.

The amount owed to migrant workers by the government and contractors reached about 33 billion yuan (US$4 billion) by the end of 2002, bringing about a nationwide settlement campaign.

In a related development, Beijing Municipal Labour and Social Guarantee Bureau found that female job seekers in Beijing have much greater access to work than their male counterparts.

Among the over 90,000 registered job-hunters in the labour market, more than half are men, however, companies are in great need of female workers, said the bureau.

Companies in the restaurant, cleaning, sales, insurance, real estate and hairdressing industries, most of whom prefer to recruit female employees, have reported a labour shortage of about 20,000 workers.

Xie Xiaohong, an official with the Beijing Labour Market Administration Centre, said 15,000 enterprises have issued recruitment notices for a total of about 100,000 workers.

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