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19US$3.9b paid back to rural migrant workers
Updated: 2004-12-19 08:52

China paid back 32.2 billion yuan (US$3.9 billion) owed to migrant rural workers from rural areas as of December 3, accounting for 95.88 percent of the total owed, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security said in Beijing December 17.

Zheng Silin, Chinese labor and social security minister, said an inspection is ongoing from December 1 to February, 2005 to find out if migrant construction workers were paid on time.

"We must ensure that farmer workers can get money after a whole year of hard work and return to home happily for the lunar new year," he said at a work meeting on 2005's work plan.

Those who arbitrarily extend migrant laborers' working hours and default on wage payment will be held accountable, he said, adding that the ministry is working on a mechanism to check future back pay.

In addition, the Chinese government will carry out a campaign called "spring wind" in February, which will not only offer these workers employment information, skills and services, but crack down on illegal intermediary joy services.

The Chinese government will also try to improve the social security net for migrant workers, said Zheng.

"One of the biggest risks facing migrant workers in cities is they get a serious disease, that's why we will implement basic medicare regulations fit for them based on principles of low cost, insurance for major illness and financing through social channels. "

As most of these workers work in high-risk sectors such as construction, coal mining and chemical engineering, China will guide and supervise such businesses to offer employment injury insurance and formulate more effective ways to guarantee they get compensated if injured at work.

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