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Court Helps Workers Get Overdue Pay

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court has finally been able to secure the 1.1 million yuan (US$135,000) in back wages that has been owed to a group of migrant workers for six years. Twenty-four of the workers appeared in court on Thursday to receive the long-awaited payment.

Another 180 workers, who were in Chengde and Langfang in north China's Hebei Province, will get their money ahead of Spring Festival, which falls on February 9 next year.

Yesterday's delayed salary distribution followed a judgment earlier this year, when the court ruled that the Beijing Xide Food Company had to pay 1.1 million yuan (US$135,000) to the Beijing Fuhuida Construction Engineering Company, which had employed the migrant workers.

The court found at trial that Xide Food had signed a contract in November 1997, agreeing to pay Fuhuida Construction for building a factory and related facilities. With the completion of the project, Xide Food owed Fuhuida Construction a total of 1.2 million yuan (US$139,000), according to the Beijing News.

But the food company claimed it did not have the funds to pay, requiring Fuhuida Construction to request the court to enforce its order.

The court sold some of the food company's real estate assets at auction and the money is being used to pay the workers' wages.

"It is the court and the law that helped us," Xue Shihai, one of the plaintiffs, said at the courthouse on Thursday. "Not being paid for my work has been a big weight on my heart for the past six years."

"In 1998, when we worked at the Xide Food Company, we did not even have money for meals and could not pay for a railway ticket back to our hometowns," Xue said.

(China Daily, China.org.cn December 10, 2004)

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