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China Refreshes Call to Guarantee Migrant Worker's Pay

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security(MLSS) here Monday called on guaranteeing migrant worker's payment as they expected to return home with pockets full to celebrate the annual family reunion during the new year.

In the first half of 2005, the MLSS helped 3.94 million migrant workers get their pay, totaling 3.24 billion yuan (US$400 million).

By the end of October this year, the MLSS established 16 payment safeguarding mechanisms across the country, providing a long-term surveillance system to secure migrant workers be paid on time.

"Though great achievements have been made in the past year, companies defaulting on workers' salaries still exist," said Hua Fuzhou, vice minister of the MLSS.

China has an estimated 120 million migrant workers, many of them active in the construction industry, and their semi-legal status means they have little protection against employers who cheat them of their wages.

In 2003, before the Lunar New Year's festival, in an effort to clear up the 2003 unpaid wages to migrant rural workers, China fought an attacking war on a nationwide scale.

A total of 33.1 billion yuan (about US$4 billion) of salary in arrears has been retrieved and given back to migrant workers so far, 98.4 percent of the total defaulted amount.

(Xinhua News Agency November 29, 2005)

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