Migrant workers' rights should be respected and safeguarded; and discriminatory regulations and systematic obstacles should be removed so that they are treated on par with their urban counterparts, China's State Council declared in a document yesterday.
It is vital to recognize and resolve the problems faced by migrant laborers from rural areas as farmers-turned-workers have become the main labor resource in the processing, manufacturing, building, and mining industries, as well as home management and the catering sector.
It called for increased efforts to ensure rural laborers in cities earn a decent wage that is paid on time.
"A wage payment supervision system and a wage deposit system should be established to solve the issues of default and underpayment."
Major project developers and employers who have a history of defaulting on payments are obliged to open special deposit accounts for employees.
The document decrees increased punishment for employers who default on wage payments, noting companies could be ordered to halt construction or have their business licenses revoked in more serious cases.
Wage disputes are the main cause of mass protests by migrant rural laborers, and the government is determined to address the issue to maintain social stability.
The document lists the major plights of migrant workers including: low and often-delayed payment, long working hours, poor workplace safety conditions, lack of social security, the risk of occupational diseases and industrial accidents and injuries, lack of training opportunities and resources, lack of provision for children's education, and poor living conditions.
Trade unions at all levels should play a bigger role in protecting the rights of migrant workers, the document says, and urges employers to allow workers to join trade unions in accordance with the law.
Trade unions should ensure employers fulfill their obligations; and focus on employment contracts, payment, working conditions, and industrial safety.
(China Daily March 28, 2006)