51 migrant workers enter local legislature in Chongqing

Updated: 2008-01-11 19:14

CHONGQING -- Fifty-one migrant workers have been elected municipal lawmakers in Chongqing, the first time in the southwest China city, a local official said Friday.

They will have their own say at an annual session of the local legislature, which is to convene on January 20, representing about 7 million migrant workers in Chongqing, one of the largest cities in China, Zhou Bo, a spokesman for the municipal government, told reporters.

They were elected out of 149 candidates in 30 districts and counties of Chongqing, and took up 5.86 percent of the total 870 seats at the local legislative body, or the Chongqing Municipal People's Congress.

"They have been given trainings on how to fulfil their duties as deputies to the Municipal People's Congress," Zhou said.

China has more than 120 million migrant workers, most of whom are farmers from poor rural areas. They travel to the cities to work in construction, mining, cleaning and catering industries, or the kind of jobs usually labeled "dirty", "heavy", "hard" and "exhausting".

For long, they had no their own representatives in local or national legislatures, and discrimination and prejudice against migrant workers is still common among urban Chinese.

News reports have frequently exposed infringements of their rights, such as unpaid wages.

In 2002, a migrant worker, Zhu Linfei, was elected deputy to the local People's Congress in Yiwu, a city in east China's Zhejiang Province, becoming the first among his peers to enter a legislative body.

China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), adopted a resolution last March, providing for rural migrant worker representatives in the national parliament for this year's full session.

After that, a number of provinces and cities, such as Shanghai, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Shanxi, have elected new local lawmakers from among migrant workers.

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