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Unions Call for Rule to Help Workers

The All-China Federation of Trade Unions wants to help migrant workers get paid quickly.

The federation is pushing for new legislation that will clearly stipulate how quick workers should get paid.

"We hope there is a regulation with specific articles to guarantee every laborer's immediate payment," Ding Dajian, a senior official with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions told China Daily yesterday.

Ding said his federation has delivered a report to the State Council, urging it to revise the current payment regulation.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security unveiled the regulation in 1995, with related articles to "avoid vicious delayed payment."

"It didn't go into details and punishment articles," said Ding.

Unionists want to add three articles in the new regulation.

First, as Chinese workers and employees, migrant workers should be paid monthly or weekly.

Second, payment can be delayed on the condition that trade unions agree. But the deadline should be within two weeks.

Third, the detailed punishment articles should be written into the revised regulation.

"We should ensure farmers-turned-workers have an effective weapon in hand," said Ding.

Recently, Ding's federation praised some local legislative bodies for their timely revision of local payment regulations.

In Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, the local legislature said the deadline for payment should not exceed two weeks after payday of every month.

But now, many migrant workers are not allowed equal opportunities to negotiate and sign labor contracts and they are usually paid once every year.

Yesterday, another senior official with the federation, Dong Li, also said the unions will try to prevent migrant workers from being left penniless as Spring Festival approaches.

The festival, which falls in January next year, is often not a cause for celebration for the huge number of workers who have traveled to cities to find employment.

But statistics show that employers across the country owe 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) to the nation's huge army of 94 million migrant workers.

Meanwhile, delayed payments also exist in state-owned enterprises, said Dong.

To help solve knotty difficulties of laid-off workers, the federation has earmarked 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) to distribute among the needy nationwide during festival season.

(China Daily December 30, 2003)

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