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Do Not Ignore Safety of Migrant Brothers

In the past six months, 92 workplace accidents in Beijing have killed 115 workers 98 of them migrant workers.

Lu Hao, vice-mayor of the capital city, reprimanded the heads of enterprises involved over their apathy towards the safety of migrant workers.

The vice-mayor made the comments at a television conference on work safety at the weekend. He revealed the municipal government will flesh out rules that could punish bosses that do not pay due attention to workplace safety and do not show necessary concern for the lives of migrant workers.

The fact that 23 of the 98 dead workers fell from scaffolding justifies the outrage of the vice-mayor. If these workers had fastened their safety belts while working high above the city's streets, they would not have fallen to their death.

If they had received professional training before they took up their job, if the leaders of the firms they worked for had driven home the importance of safety, if supervisors had been on the scene all the time and strictly required these workers to obey safety directives, there is a good chance many of the workers could have avoided misfortune.

But they did not because the leaders of such enterprises do not care about migrant workers.

On more than 6,000 construction sites in the capital, more than 20,000 work on scaffolding and most are migrant workers from rural areas. They have to climb up scaffolding and work high in the air, enduring freezing cold or scorching heat.

Their living conditions are poor and in many cases their wages are in arrears. They are discriminated against although they have made great contributions to the country's urbanization drive.

Construction site accidents, mine explosions and factory workshop fires almost all of the fatalities are migrant workers from rural areas. They are doing the jobs that are backbreaking, dirty or dangerous.

But the fact is our everyday lives depend on these hard working rural brothers and sisters that toil when others will not.

Without migrant workers constructing flash developments, how would we urbanites find flats to live in? Without migrant workers transporting vegetables to markets, how would we eat? Without migrant workers risking their lives to dig up coal, our heating systems would not warm our homes and offices.

It is undeniable that our lives are closely interconnected with the efforts of our rural brothers and sisters.

Our lifestyles are heavily dependant on their hard work.

It is a shame urbanites look down on rural workers, and it is awful that some bosses ignore their safety.

But it is encouraging that rules preventing rural children from entering urban schools have been scrapped and professional training courses have been established for migrant workers in some cities.

More initiatives of this kind are needed to create a better environment for our fellow citizens as they struggle to integrate in the cities.

(China Daily December 12, 2005)

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