With the year quickly coming to a close, government officials are starting to pay more attention to migrant workers that aren't paid on time. Over the past several years, many migrant workers have been forced to resort to desperate measures to receive what is owed to them. But this year, new laws protecting their rights and interests have been implemented, and will hopefully improve the situation drastically.
The song "Let's Unite to Request Back Wages" is a true expression of one of the challenges migrant workers face.
Despite the huge contributions migrant workers make to Chinese cities, they are still not treated with enough care and attention. And in one of many examples, their rights and interests are constantly infringed upon by being refused payment after working hard for the whole year.
"It has been four months and I haven't received my money."
"Among all my rights and interests, what concerns most is my wages."
With no laws to protect their rights, wage payment defaults have been common over the last few years. And to make matters worse, migrant workers found it extremely difficult to get help from the government, since government has no power to impose administrative orders on enterprises who fail to pay migrant workers on time.
But now things have improved slightly. Beijing has released a new regulation to ensure workers are paid on time. One official from the labor and social security department says the new regulation is an effective way to protect their rights.
"Under the guidance of the new legislation, we can do more to help migrant workers and protect their rights and interests."
The State Council has also released a new labor supervision and protection law that takes effect December 1st. These new regulations say migrant workers should be paid on a weekly or monthly basis like any other employee. And enterprises violating the law will be severely punished.
Defaulted payments are not merely a matter of employment ethics, but are also an economic problem stemming from migrant workers' perceived low social status. But with the release of the laws, migrant workers can demand their wages like other urban resident, a significant change from previous discriminatory regulations. Still the system is far from perfect and requires stricter laws and more effort to be taken.
Even with the new laws taking effect, a lot of effort is still required to help migrant workers get back their wages from law-breaking enterprises. Tomorrow, we'll bring you a story about one migrant worker in Beijing who volunteers to help other migrants with their payment delay problem, and many more.
(CRI November 23, 2004)