Huang Shuhe, vice-chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, recently urged enterprises under the central government's management to standardize the labor management of migrant workers and strengthen management of their labor contracts in a bid to protect their legal rights and interests.
His remarks were in response to the ever-rising number of migrant workers employed in China's major State-owned enterprises, which reportedly employ a total of 6.8 million migrant workers. However, employees in these businesses managed by the central government are classified into two categories - regular workers and migrant workers - and a discriminatory "same work but unequal remuneration" policy has long been applied, with the regular workers paid three to five times the wage of migrant workers. Migrant workers also suffer discrimination and unequal treatment with regard to social security, healthcare, education, training and political rights.
A large volume of overseas capital has been attracted to China over the past three decades seeking to reap the benefits of the country's demographic dividend. That has contributed to the country becoming the "world's workshop", as well as the nation's economic prosperity. However, the country's demographic advantage is to a large extent the result of its migrant workers. China's high pace of economic growth and prosperity over the past three decades has been achieved partly at the price of high labor intensity, bad working conditions, low wages and poor welfare and social security. This has resulted in a low sense of happiness among the country's hundreds of millions of migrant workers.
In 2010, the central government promulgated a document, stressing the country should try to transform migrant workers to urban citizens to resolve the problems. In its survey report published on Feb 20 on the new-generation of migrant workers, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions proposed that a collective wage negotiation mechanism be established to raise the wages of migrant workers. It also urged that practical measures be taken to expand the coverage of the country's social security network for the massive migrant work force, improve their housing conditions and extend them an equal hukou, or household registration, in the cities where they work.
Undoubtedly, the document by the central government and the federation's proposal, if effectively implemented, will be of great significance to the settlement of a series of problems facing these migrant workers.