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Shenzhen Govt Helps Migrant Workers Get Unpaid Wages
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It was a journey home Zhang Xiaole feared he would not be able to afford to make.

The migrant worker was among dozens of people that had turned up to work just a few days earlier only to find the factory had been closed down and their boss had fled.

But as he embarked on the train recently, along with another 100 delighted workmates, for Spring Festival he was safe in the knowledge he had been fully paid for all his work at the firm.

He was among workers at the factory who phoned the government's hotline for wage defaults. Just two days later their money two months worth of wages had been paid.

The city in southwest China's Sichuan Province where about 70 percent of its 10 million population are migrant workers has carried out a city-wide crackdown on wage defaulting since October.

The efforts have paid off. By Tuesday, the Shenzhen Bureau of Labor and Social Security had punished more than 1,300 offending companies and imposed 47 million yuan (US$5.8 million) of fines on them. Meanwhile, some 70 million yuan (US$8.6 million) of wages had been claimed back.

"Shenzhen doesn't welcome companies which ignore the law," Tan Guoxiang, chief of the Shenzhen Discipline Inspection Commission, said in a meeting recently.

"The government is determined to fight against wage defaulting. Any offender will be found and punished."

Starting from October 9, the 500-member law enforcement team checked hundreds of companies, especially the labour-intensive enterprises, to check workers were being paid on time.

The labor departments also followed up reports from the special hotline.

Earlier this month, eight company executives were jailed for up to one month for wage defaulting, the first time on the Chinese mainland that defaulters have been subject to criminal prosecutions.

Since the new hard line has been adopted, three companies in Shenzhen took into consideration workers' unpaid wages when they were counting their annual losses and gains.

In central Shenzhen's Futian District, a company allocated more than 1 million yuan (US$123,304) owed to employees; an electronics company in Nanshan District paid back 280,000 yuan (US$34,525) to its 130 employees and the boss of a Taiwan-funded company in Bao'an District took out a 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) loan from the bank to pay the 3,000-plus workers, said Guan Lingen, director of the local labor bureau.

(China Daily January 27, 2006)

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