A woman migrant worker in south China's Guangdong Province was
elected on Monday as a deputy to the country's top legislature, the
National People's Congress.
Hu Xiaoyan was elected at the provincial people's congress on
Monday afternoon, becoming the first migrant worker to occupy the
post of national legislator.
Her qualification still needs to be examined by the credentials
committee of the NPC Standing Committee before she is approved for
a five-year term as the 11th NPC deputy.
"I am very excited. My colleagues and friends used to turn to me
for help when they were in trouble. Now I have had a very good
opportunity to help more migrant workers." Hu said in a telephone
interview with Xinhua.
A native of southwestern Sichuan Province, 34-year-old Hu has
been working in a building ceramics company in Foshan City for five
She had been promoted to deputy workshop chief. Most of the
workers in her company are migrant workers.
She said education would be her top priority as she worried most
about her two daughters studying in her hometown of Sichuan.
"I think the government should attach more importance to dealing
with the schooling of the children of migrant workers," she
Shi Famao, a Beijing lawyer who has been helping protect the
rights of migrant workers since 2001, said, "This is certainly a
good thing. The NPC should have deputies from migrant workers, a
huge but disadvantaged group."
China's migrant laborers from rural areas are estimated to
number around 200 million. They have become a pillar of the
country's work force, but they face various problems, including pay
arrears, workplace injury compensation, health care and their
"The election helps give migrant workers a voice and protect
their rights and interests," said Shi. "Migrant workers themselves
most clearly know their hardships and what needs to be
Migrant worker Hu is supposed to attend the first plenary
session of the 11th National People's Congress scheduled in March.
Around 3,000 deputies will attend the annual event.
The NPC annual session in March last year approved a draft
resolution on legislative elections. The resolution stipulated that
provinces and municipalities with a large population of rural
migrant workers should have an NPC deputy quota for them.
The minimum number of deputies to be elected from migrant
workers is not specified, but NPC deputy regulations stipulate one
deputy for every 240,000 urban and every 960,000 rural people.
Yang Chengyong, an official in charge of the election affairs of
the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress Standing Committee,
hailed Hu's election as great progress.
"It not only shows China's top legislature attaches importance
to the diversity of deputies, but also the public's hope for
grassroots groups to have more say in policy-making," Yang
Migrant workers have previously held positions in provincial and
city-level legislative bodies. They have become more involved in
the development of the regions where they work.
Guangdong has around 20 million migrant workers. In November,
six migrant workers were elected to the provincial legislature.
Zhang Yadong, a migrant worker deputy who is attending the
on-going first session of the 11th Guangdong Provincial People's
Congress, said he would put forward proposals regarding migrant
worker issues such as the slow growth of salaries, better trade
union representation and health care.
He also stressed the strict implementation of national and local
laws with regard to the rights and interests of migrant
(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2008)