The protection of migrant workers' rights continues to be one of the topics dominating this year's National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference sessions. Ren Qixing, a member of the 10th National Committee of the CPPCC, has put forward four key aspects of migrant workers' rights that must be protected.
Ren said that the current state of affairs is not satisfactory, particularly as migrant workers continue to fall victim to delays in wage payments and cuts, and lawsuits arising from work-related injury disputes are increasing in number.
According to Ren, the task of improving protection of migrant workers' rights is difficult because of weak supervision by labor and social security departments (LSSDs), especially over such issues as labor contracts, work safety and timely wage payments.
Ren highlighted the following four key aspects of the issue that must be addressed:
First, the LSSDs should continue to supervise migrant workers' labor contracts, and be open to dealing with disputes. When faced with contract non-performance, fraud or employers refusing to sign contracts with migrant workers, LSSDs should order compliance by employers. If rights have been breached, LSSDs should order employers to pay compensation. If the breaches amount to crimes according to Chinese law, the matters must be referred to the courts.
Second, detailed rules and regulations on safeguarding migrant workers' rights should be mapped out soon. Employers should provide LSSDs with lists of employees for registration. Meanwhile, LSSDs should develop the framework of a standard contract of employment, and ensure that employers sign their contracts with employees. Copies of the signed contracts should be sent back to the LSSDs as records.
Third, a payment distribution supervision system must be set up to deal with the non- or late payment of wages by employers. Those who deliberately default on payments should be sent to judicial departments for investigation.
Fourth, work safety departments need to further improve safety and supervision in production. Employers must be pushed to provide the relevant and necessary safety facilities, and to take measures to protect the workers against workplace-related diseases. On-the-job training should also be offered to employees, especially those who are engaged in mining or the production of dangerous substances and material.
(China Development Gateway by Wind Gu and Unisumoon, March 6, 2007)