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Government to Tackle Farmer Workers' Wage Arrears Issue

China plans to draft and improve a relevant mechanism to ensure that rural immigrant workers in cities be paid on time and in full in 2004, a senior official said at a news briefing at the ongoing session of its top legislature Tuesday.

Wang Dongjin, vice minister of labor and social security, said his ministry is to expedite the drafting of regulations on labor supervision and salary payment in 2004. In addition, an early-warning system will be instituted to deter payoff default and help rural migrant workers to get back their defaulted salaries.

"We will exert our utmost to tackle farmer workers' wage arrears issue and provide them with the same social security protection as their urban peers," said the minister.

Labor and Social Security Minister Zheng Silin said that the Chinese government will do away with local regulations that discriminate against rural migrant workers and set up a labor market with urban and rural laborers competing on the equal footing. Individuals and enterprises infringing upon lawful rights of rural workers will be penalized harshly, Zheng added.

From 2003 to February 2004, China had helped rural migrant workers to get back defaulted wages of more than 25 billion yuan (about 3 billion US dollars), or over 90 percent of the total wage arrears.

Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to tackle the thorny issues concerning defaulted construction costs and wage arrears for migrant workers in the construction sector within a span of three years in his government work report at the opening of the Second Session of the Tenth NPC last Friday.

"The goal is achievable," said Wang Dongjin.

At present, there are some 93 million rural migrant workers in China, mostly working in the construction and service sector.

(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2004)


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