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Migrant Workers Invited to Join Unions

China's migrant workers are being welcomed into the fold of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).


The federation, which represents 130 million workers, Thursday urged grass-roots union to recruit the country's huge population of migrant workers as new members.


They should also do more to protect the legal rights of migrant laborers, the federation said.


The ACFTU outlined its decision yesterday in an urgent circular released nationwide.


Since China's reform and opening-up began, coastal areas have led the country in developing export-orientated, labor-intensive processing industries. And since the 1990s, when the country's economic reforms and development accelerated, the demand for labor has expanded further.


Statistics reveal there are currently 94 million rural people working or doing business in cities, of which 6 million arrived this year.


Most of the farmer workers are from central and western areas, which are lagging behind coastal regions economically.


The State Council has required governments at all levels to guide and manage, instead of blocking the flow of labor. And no discriminatory employment policies should be used against rural laborers.


But in some enterprises, especially private companies, bosses have refused to sign contracts with laborers and have paid them less than they deserved. Moreover, some laborers have to work extra hours without pay in inferior conditions.


"The very pressing task for us is to mobilize workers in more private companies to form trade unions," the ACFTU said in the circular.


The federation said the protective measures would help promote the cross-regional flow of rural workers, which is important to integrating the urban and rural economies and establishing a unified labor market.


In past years, central government policies on migrant workers have been re-adjusted in line with economic conditions -- from restriction to permission, from blindly blocking the flow to actively organizing orderly and reasonable movement, and finally to aiming for an integrated rural and urban labor market.


(China Daily August 8, 2003)

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