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Protection of Rural Migrants' Rights Urged

Although China has been dedicating to working for the legal rights of rural migrants seeking jobs in cities, implementation of these policies remain unsatisfactory and the country is in urgent need to enact a law to protect their legitimate rights -- this is a view shared by deputies to the top legislature Tuesday.

Rural farm workers, also named "migrant rural workers", have created enormous wealth for the society and their status of "industrial workers" should be recognized, said Ren Zhenglong, member of NPC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Liu Huailian, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) at the ongoing annual session from central China's agricultural Henan province, called for national policies formulated to guarantee that those migrant workers enjoy the same treatment in terms of social security, insurance, payment and vacationing, and their children enjoy on the equal footing with their urbanite peers to attend schools.

Jiang Deming, a deputy from eastern Jiangsu province, said China should enact a law in defense of the rights of migrant workers promptly so as to better protect the disadvantaged group and maintain social stability.

Migrant worker-turned NPC deputy Wang Yuancheng, who proposed institutionalizing the protection of rural laborers' rights at the 2003 NPC session, planned to resubmit his motion to the ongoing session.

Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to solve the problems of defaulted construction costs and wage arrears for migrant workers in the construction industry within a span of three years in his government work report at the opening of the Second Session of the Tenth NPC last Friday.

Wen, who helped a countrywoman to get back her husband's defaulted salary of 2,000 yuan (about US$240) late last year, urged substantial measures taken to ensure that rural workers in cities be paid on time and in full. He also called for closer attention to tackle their wages issue.

All unreasonable limitations imposed upon rural farm workers in urban areas be lifted, and basic social insurance provided for them, according to deputies, who echoed Chinese leaders' resolve to help the migrant rural workers. Relevant proposals also add to the law with such expressions as those in "supporting and encouraging rural migrant workers to sell and transfer land-using rights on a voluntary basis."

Governor Huang Huahua from south China's Guangdong province, a major economic powerhouse, noted that legislative and other means have been taken by his province to protect the lawful rights of rural farm workers and to have their salaries paid timely and in full.

At present, there are approximately 30 million rural farmers in Guangdong, with one third of them migrated from other provinces or autonomous regions. "They have contributed tremendously to Guangdong's economic growth and this is crucial to local economic prosperity and social stability and their lawful rights from infringement should be protected well," said Huang.

The governor vowed a strict and meticulous inspection of industries and businesses which hire a big rural workforce in a bid to ensure that rural laborers are paid fairly. And he also warned of a severe penalty on payoff defaults.

(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2004)


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