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Improve Lot of Migrant Workers
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The government should make more effort to improve the treatment of migrant workers, says a signed article in Dazhong Daily. An excerpt follows:

Following the release of State Council proposals on issues related to migrant workers, a research report on their current conditions was released a few days ago.

The report provides us with a lot of first-hand materials on the real picture of the country's farmers-turned-workers, exposing their hardships in strange cities far away from their hometowns.

The mention of "migrant workers" is usually reminiscent of "low salary," "tiring work," "defaulting on payment" and the picture of a crowded flow of people at railway stations in big cities during the Spring Festival.

Most migrant workers get a monthly salary between 500 to 800 yuan (US$63-80), but only 47.78 percent of them receive their payment on time, says the report.

Only 53.7 percent of migrant workers sign labor contracts with their employers and 74.4 percent have not received pre-work technological training.

Migrant workers have become an important force behind the country's industrialization. However, a unified labor market between rural and urban areas has not been set up and the employment system that embodies fair competition has not been formed.

With biased identities and social status, they are often paid less despite working longer and harder than their urban counterparts. Also, they are not covered by unemployment and medical security umbrellas.

The existing biased policies, if not discarded, will seriously hamper the development of a harmonious society.

With all the problems related to migrant workers raised by the central government, there are good reasons to believe they will be solved some day in the future.

However, due to the long-standing dual rural-urban structure, their solution will heavily depend upon whether government at various levels can come up with scientific programs and practical systems to protect the legal rights and interests of migrant workers.

(China Daily April 20, 2006)

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