China will take steps to ensure over the long-term that migrant workers get their wages — a problem that had been a pain in the neck for many of the country’s 200 million-plus people working away from their hometowns, high-ranking officials said on Jan 18.
Five measures will be carried out to make sure every migrant worker is paid promptly and fully, said Qiu Xiaoping, vice-minister of human resources and social security, at a policy briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office.
Provincial governments should take the overall responsibility of enforcing the timely payment of wages to migrant workers, while city and county governments should carry out specific tasks aimed at achieving that goal, the vice-minister said. A prime area of focus is the construction sector, where every project should have timely wage distribution, he said.
Enforcement of labor laws will be improved to strengthen cross-regional coordination and help migrant workers protect their rights, he said. Last year, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security created a blacklist for employers that had maliciously postponed paying workers.
Last year, a joint memorandum was signed by the ministry and 29 other State Council departments to punish violators. Thirty measures were listed.
Violators will be restrained nationwide from market access, bidding and financing — moves made to raise the cost of breaking promises and committing violations of the law, Qiu said.
The briefing was the latest expression of the government’s resolve to help migrant workers receive their legitimately earned wages. Last week, the ministry presented a report on migrant workers’ delayed wages at the State Council executive meeting.
In January 2016, the general office of the State Council released a guideline on delayed wages for migrant workers, setting standard operating expectations for enterprises and establishing a credit reporting system.
Last year, authorities followed up on 86,000 cases of delayed wage payments for migrants, Qiu said. More than 1.68 million workers received 16 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) in delayed wages.
The vice-minister said migrant workers have been important contributors to China’s industrialization and modernization over the 40 years since the start of the country’s reform and opening-up. Guaranteeing payment of wages owed is part of the government’s duty and necessary in achieving social fairness and justice, he said.
Wang Cheng, director of the ministry’s department of labor inspection, suggested migrant workers should sign contracts with legal human resources service providers and make clear agreements as to working times, locations and mode of payment.
When they are unable to get their wages, migrant workers can call hotline 12333 or make online contacts with labor inspection authorities, Wang said.