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Nine proves for 1,000 yuan | Updated: 2013-02-05 20:49

It is reported that a worker in a dental clinic in Shenyang city, the capital of Liaoning province, turned to labor arbitration to get her back wages, which were about 1,000 yuan ($160). But, she was informed that nine documents of proof are needed before arbitration officials can create a file for her, and the staff there even told her to "be prepared since it may take several months to finish the whole process without a certainty of getting her money back." It is a shame that our society cannot protect workers' rights in a timely manner, says an editorial in Beijing News. Excerpts:

To seek back wages of 1,000 yuan, nine documents of proof are required, a task that is complicated and difficult for a common worker, not to mention migrant workers.

Labor arbitration is a kind of quasi-judicial procedure, so it is right to require some evidence. However, nine documents of proof is a lot for a common worker asking for back pay.

Moreover, the reason many migrant workers have back-pay issues is that they don't know how to protect themselves. They might not sign a legal labor contract with their employers or keep related evidence of their working statuses, and some bosses use these as excuses to deny wages. Therefore, it is unreasonable to ask workers to submit so much proof — an obstacle for them to get their back pay.

What happened in the labor arbitration organization is not merely a simple case of bad service. It is dereliction of duty. The proof needed in the arbitration law includes timecards and payroll lists, which are all quite difficult for migrant workers to get. Therefore, when dealing with cases involving migrant workers and other vulnerable groups, the labor arbitration organization should actively contact the employers to get proof, rather than requiring the workers to submit the proof for them.

We should blame not only the bad behavior of bosses for the problem with migrant workers' back pay. Dereliction of duty in government sectors should be investigated as well. Take the case in Shenyang, for example. There are three local government organizations responsible for this issue. But none is working actively to help workers.

Maybe it is time to change their behavior first, and then it will be possible to solve the problem with back wages.

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