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Bosses detained for defaulting workers' wages
Updated: 2006-01-15 11:16

Eight company bosses have been detained in south China's booming city of Shenzhen on charges of intentionally defaulting on 7 million yuan (867,432 U.S. dollars) in wages of 1,200 workers.

It is the first time in China that business employers, who withheld wages from employees and escaped, were held responsible for being involved in economic crimes.

He Nujiang, of the Shenzhen Maranta Industrial Co. Ltd., and seven other bosses of different businesses, such as a restaurant and an electronics company, are suspected of having defaulted wages for their workers during the 2004-2005 period by fabricating facts, lying, frequently changing the names of their businesses, writing blank cheques, reporting false registered capital, illegally producing and using official seals, illegally transferring assets, and running away to avoid being punished, local police said.

They are also found to have intentionally delayed 41 million yuan (5 million U.S. dollars) in payment for goods to 350 suppliers, according to Li Honglang, deputy director of the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau.

"Police will resolutely crack down on such acts by the eight suspects, because they severely infringe on the legitimate rights of workers, disturbed the order of the market economy, and affected social stability," Li said.

In addition to punishing the eight bosses, Shenzhen has also made public another 30 businesses that were blacklisted for defaulting wages, Li said.

"Shenzhen hopes to establish and perfect a long-term and effective mechanism to combat such acts, starting with these 38 cases," said Tan Guoxiang, vice secretary of the Shenzhen Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

As the Chinese Lunar New Year approaches, Shenzhen will launch another campaign to crack down on employers who default on wages in a bid to ensure all workers get their due pay prior to the festival, Tan said.

To better protect employees' rights and interests, China will consider adding provisions in its Criminal Law to deliver criminal penalties to employers that delay salary payments or run away, according to a senior legislator.

In a report delivered at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, late last December, He Luli, vice chairwoman of the Committee, said that the Chinese government will step up the formulation of labor contract law, social security law, labor dispute settlement law and employment promotion law, revise the Labor Law and try to settle all the overdue pay owed by employers to workers by the end of 2007.

"Social conflicts triggered by overdue salaries, especially by employers who escape and hide, are on the rise, seriously undermining social stability," said He.

Government statistics showed that the number of employed people in Chinese cities and towns jumped from 190 million in 1995 to 265 million in 2004.

In an NPC questionnaire survey of 2,150 businesses in 40 cities last year, 7.8 percent of the surveyed employees said they had been withheld salaries amounting to 2,184 yuan (273 U.S. dollars) per person for 3.2 months on average over the previous year.

In order to settle the issue of delayed payment of wages to migrant workers, 16 provincial-level regions and municipalities have set up the mechanism to ensure the payment of salaries and 14 provincial-level regions have introduced a system to monitor the delivery of salaries.

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