Projects to further protect migrant workers
By Wang Ye (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-10 05:57
The nation's top trade union organization is stepping up efforts to protect
the welfare of migrant workers.
Xu Deming, vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions,
announced yesterday that the group would have in place 10 specific projects to
safeguard the rights and interests of China's roughly 150 million
farmer-turned-workers by the end of the year.
They include pressing employers to sign labour contracts with workers,
providing greater assistance to those who have their rights infringed upon and
ensuring migrant workers are fully paid.
The organization also wants to help defend the workers' legitimate demands
for a safe, healthy working environment and other welfares such as work injury
insurance and a feasible pension scheme.
"Along with the labour department, the organization will strive to ensure 90
per cent of migrant workers have a labour contract with their employers by
2008," Xu said yesterday at a press conference.
The federation held the briefing after migrant workers' issues were raised
during the ongoing sessions of the NPC and CPPCC.
"The problem of these labourers having difficulties obtaining their pay needs
to be effectively resolved," he said. "A system to make sure they get full pay
on a monthly basis will be promoted in the construction industry."
Presently, construction contractors often withhold most of the migrant
workers' salary and only distribute it at the end of the year. But some bosses
end up absconding with it.
The vice-chairman also pledged to lend greater support to migrant workers who
intend to file lawsuits.
"The migrant workers will be helped with the expense of a lawsuit even if
they are penniless, and they can win it as long as they have justice on their
side," he said.
He added that the money for legal costs would be provided by the local trade
unions that they belonged to.
According to Feng Tongqing, executive chair of China Labour Studies Centre of
Beijing Normal University, Chinese trade unions are playing an increasingly
significant role in protecting the disadvantaged group.
In some areas, trade unions have helped migrant workers settle labour
disputes legally and effectively, he said.
Trade unions also launched campaigns to help migrant workers win back their
overdue wages and raised money to help them during major festivals.
Statistics showed, however, only a small per cent of migrant workers are with
trade unions now, with the top trade unions aiming this year to recruit 6.5
"It's similar to the situation that many migrant workers are reluctant to
seek help from job agencies," Feng said.
"But more people will realize the benefits of trade unions and join them as
their experiences in cities accumulate."
(China Daily 03/10/2006 page3)