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Survey: 40% of Migrant Laborers Work Overtime
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Of the 29,425 respondents, 26.28 percent have to work nine to 10 hours per day and a further 13.61 percent even longer. Thirty-seven percent only have one day off a week.

Chinese labor laws stipulate that workers should work no more than eight hours a day and 40 hours a week. They’re entitled to at least one full day off a week and should be paid for overtime.

But the ruthless pursuit of profit has resulted in private businesses taking advantage of migrant workers.

The survey also found that migrant laborers increased their working hours voluntarily to earn more money. However, 15 percent of respondents were not paid on time or in full. Fifty percent received no pay for the overtime and 80 percent were not entitled to any paid holidays.

On insurance cover the survey found only 27 percent of the respondents were covered for endowment, 26 percent for medical, 15 percent by unemployment and 33 percent for injury.

Statistics show about 130 million people from the countryside have sought jobs in the country's urban areas since the late 1980s.

Most of them are employed as construction workers, security guards and waiters where they encounter low and often delayed pay, long working hours, poor safety conditions, lack of social security, inadequate schooling for their children and substandard living conditions.

The State Council has called for equal treatment of migrant laborers by protecting their legal rights and removing all discriminating regulations. The State Council has pledged to improve the lives of the migrant population in order to build a harmonious socialist society

According to the survey migrant laborers in Chinese cities earn an average of 966 yuan (US$120) per month. This is much more than the average farmer but still very low compared to urban residents.

The per capita monthly income for half of the migrant laborers is less than 800 yuan (US$101) with 19.67 percent below 500 yuan (US$63), said the survey. Ten percent of those questioned have a monthly income of 1,500 yuan (US$190).

Migrant workers are mostly poor farmers who leave the countryside to find jobs in cities. There are more than 100 million migrant workers in China. The average income of these farmers is about a quarter that earned by urban residents. 

The loss of agriculture land produces a bigger army of migrant workers in the country and this has led to many social difficulties. 

The survey shows that jobs in east China are the most lucrative for migrant workers. They can earn an average of 1090 yuan (US$138) per month compared with 880 yuan (US$111) and 835 yuan (US$106) in the less developed central and western regions.

Migrant laborers spend an average of 463 yuan (US$59) per month and part of this is: 72 yuan (US$9.1) on accommodation, 235 yuan (US$30) on food and 47 yuan (US$6) on recreation.

To improve their professional skills half of the survey respondents received vocational training while 24.1 percent were self-taught.

Of the 5,065 respondents who brought children with them to the cities only 1.05 percent had seen their children drop out of school and 49.2 percent had to pay an average registration fee of 1,226 yuan (US$155) in addition to regular tuition costs.

(China Daily October 23, 2006)

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