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Shanghai's Migrant Workers to Benefit from Social Security System

Insurance, as a form of protection against the economic costs of accidents, is widely accessible for Shanghai people, and now migrant workers in the city can enjoy those same benefits. A program is being brought into effect by the Municipal Government as part of policies to secure the well being of rural laborers.   
Accounting for one third of the labor force, the more that 3 million migrant workers in Shanghai are closely associated with the daily life of the city. But in contrast to their enormous contributions, few of them enjoy social guarantees comparable with those around them. They don't have permanent residence permits or even proper work contracts, so they are excluded from the urban social security system. They have to cope by themselves with whatever costs might arise, from losing their jobs to accidents at work.

But that could be becoming history. By this June, a new insurance program targeting migrant workers, and in particular nannies, will be launched. By paying an annual premium of 30 yuan, or no more than US$4 , they will receive an up to 100,000 yuan, or US$12,000 compensation for accidents.

Government spokesperson Jiao Yang introduced the new program as a shield for the vulnerable segments of the labor force. Jiao Yang says the program will be operated in a market-oriented manner, meaning it will be run by professional insurers rather than government agencies, and she adds that other similar insurance modes will be introduced to help the weak protect their labor rights.

Promoting insurance is one step of Shanghai's efforts in building up a sound social security system for rural laborers. Regulations on working hours, minimum wages, labor protection and other measures have sent a clear message that the playing field is being leveled for migrant workers.

But given the fact that many companies, especially private ones, take advantage of rural laborers through excessive work hours and defaulting on payment, a sweeping inspection on the implementation of the Labor Law is in full swing. Labor-intensive services, like manufacturing and catering, will be among the first to go under the microscope.
(CRI March 10, 2004)

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