During the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) on Tuesday, deputy Fang Chaogui proposed making serious defaults on wage payments a criminal offense to deter corporate executives from violating rural laborers' rights.
"The chronic problem of defaulting on wage payments encroaches upon the property rights of rural laborers and is prone to triggering desperate actions and social unrest," said Fang.
The deputy pointed out that employees who illegally appropriate a few thousand yuan in company property are held criminally liable, but companies that default on payment of millions of yuan in wages are not similarly punished.
He stated that this constituted a legal loophole that must to be closed to protect disadvantaged people.
Millions of migrant workers have had difficulty securing all the pay due to them, with the total amount of wages in arrears estimated at nearly 100 billion yuan (US$12.1 billion) annually in recent years. Farmers-turned-laborer working in cities are hit hardest.
Last year the State Council launched a mass drive to recover defaulted wages for migrants working in the construction industry, reclaiming a combined sum of 33.1 billion yuan (US$4.0 billion).
(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2005)