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Migrant worker's talk with premier changes his life
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A 36-year-old peasant worker named Fan Shusheng said a face-to-face talk with Premier Wen Jiabao last February changed his life.

"The construction company registered a pay card for every worker here and no longer defaults on our pay," said Fan, who is still working at a building site in suburban Beijing.

Last year, he was one of 12 grassroots deputies from various fields invited by Wen to a conference room of the State Council to make suggestions to the report on the work of the government.

It was the first time that the government had asked for input from grassroots deputies.

Looking back, Fan said that he experienced various emotions. He said: "I never dreamed of telling my thoughts to the premier face-to-face as an ordinary migrant worker."

Fan prepared a long speech. To his surprise, he was interrupted before he finished the conventional greetings. Wen asked him to speak about his problems and thoughts frankly.

"I was nervous without the speech paper. I finally told Wen all my problems, including low pay, high tuition for my children and problems with endowment insurance (pension) and hospitalization insurance."

Fan found Wen listened to him earnestly and promised to carry out relevant policies to solve these problems, step by step.

China has more than 200 million peasant workers (also known as migrant workers) like Fan, most of whom are doing heavy labor in cities far from home. They are the main labor force of urban construction and community services. Problems related to these workers have become important government concerns.

One month after the meeting that Fan attended, Wen said in the "Report on the Work of Government (2007)" that the government will "ensure the plan to make nine-year compulsory education generally available" and be sure that "all children are able to afford and attend school."

The report also said: "We will accelerate the establishment of a social safety net targeted at rural migrant workers in cities, with the focus on signing them up for workers' compensation insurance and major medical insurance."

Fan said: "I feel that the Premier's promises are directly addressed to me, as all the new policies target the problems I outlined to him."

These promises were realized gradually. Fan's pay rose from 80 yuan (about 11.30 U.S. dollars) to 100 yuan (about 14.10 U.S. dollars) a day. He plans to save money to become a contractor in the near future.

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