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Beijing, Heilongjiang Sign Labor Agreement

Beijing and northeast China's Heilongjiang Province Thursday signed an unprecedented framework guaranteeing the legal rights of migrant workers from the province in order to tackle the capital's labor shortage.

The agreement deals with the protection of migrant workers' employment rights, timely payment of wages, working hours, working environment, health conditions and social security.

Officials from the central government witnessed the signing, and many other municipalities and provinces are likely to follow suit.

Most Chinese provinces and municipalities, especially those experiencing an economic boom, are plagued by severe labor shortages as migrant workers are hesitant to move there due to their lack of legal protection. Violence and lawsuit often result from this lack of protection.

All-China Federation of Trade Unions Secretary Zhang Mingqi said the agreement is a clear illustration of "the government's efforts to establish an effective mechanism to protect the legal rights of migrant workers."

The Heilongjiang Provincial Labor and Social Security Bureau, the Construction Commission, the Judicial Department, and trade union and women's federations all signed agreements with their counterparts in Beijing to better serve the province's migrant workers in Beijing.

At present, there are more than 3 million migrant workers in the capital, of which nearly 120,000 are from Heilongjiang.

The two sides also signed 231 labor contracts Thursday, which will provide 52,100 jobs to farmers from rural areas of Heilongjiang.

"The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games brings great opportunities for the development of the capital," said Niu Youcheng, vice-mayor of Beijing. "The preparatory work for the Games will also bring numerous job opportunities for workers from all over the country."

With the full launch of the preparatory work for the Olympics, Beijing is now badly in need of a large influx of workers.

Beijing is now in need of over 50,000 people to fill construction, security, housekeeping and hotel vacancies, according to a report in the city's Legal Evening News.

Heilongjiang has also established eight service centers in big cities where there are large numbers of migrant workers, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The centre in Beijing has entrusted Beijing Yue Cheng Law Firm to handle all cases related to the infringement on the rights of migrant workers from Heilongjiang Province.

"Migrant workers make great contributions to the construction of the capital, but there are often problems with the payment of their wages," Yue Cheng, director of the law firm, told China Daily.

(China Daily October 15, 2004)

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