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Pay Migrant Workers on Time

The government should do more to ensure migrant workers are paid what they are owed, says an article in Jiefang Daily. An excerpt follows:

As the year draws to its end, a campaign to rectify the malpractice of employers defaulting on migrant workers' payment is being launched throughout the country.

Through relentless efforts from governments at all levels, most of those who have come to cities and worked hard for a year have finally got the money earned by onerous toil.

We applaud the work done by local governments for migrant workers, who have been in a disadvantaged position in their negotiations with bosses.

To help migrant workers get their pay, some local governments have really pulled out all the stops.

Recently, a county government made a solemn commitment that it will take joint responsibility if enterprises in the county refuse to hand over workers' payment before the end of the year.

In recent years, it has become common for the governments to adopt a services-oriented approach and improve efficiency. The move taken by the county government to retrieve defaulted payment for migrant workers is certainly an innovative measure.

However, we cannot help but worry that the move may have some negative effects.

Under market economic conditions, the government should be the judge of the market and not become directly involved in economic disputes.

Otherwise the credibility of the market and that of the government will collapse if it cannot fulfil its commitments.

To solve the thorny issue of payment default, governments at all levels should commit themselves to exploring a feasible mechanism for curbing the occurrence of this malpractice at its roots.

(China Daily December 13, 2005)

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