Migrant worker lawmaker struggles to lobby for fellow migrants

11:10, March 08, 2010      

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Hu Xiaoyan, one of China's first three migrant workers to sit as a deputy to the National People''s Congress (NPC), expects to submit her first motion on protecting migrant workers' rights during the ongoing NPC session.

Nearly 3,000 deputies are attending the annual session of the national legislature, which began on Friday, to consider key issues facing the country.

Being an NPC deputy since 2008, Hu has submitted seven proposals, all concerning the welfare of migrant workers.

"To forge a motion is more difficult than submitting a proposal," she noted.

A motion becomes legally binding when it is adopted, but a proposal is not.

According to the Organic Law of the NPC and NPC rules for the discharging of its duties, a motion can be raised by a provincial-level delegation of deputies to the NPC or a group of at least 30 NPC deputies.

It can also be put forward by the presidium of the NPC, the NPC Standing Committee, special committees of the NPC, the State Council, the Supreme People''s Court, or the Supreme People''s Procuratorate.

"Before the NPC session, I received many phone calls and emails from migrant workers. Most of them were about the issue of the default of salaries," Hu said. "So this year I decided to hand in a motion about setting up a system to prevent employers from delaying payments for migrant workers."

Source:Xinhua
"I hope to get support from other deputies. If it''s successful, it''ll be my first motion as an NPC deputy," she said.

China currently has about 145 million rural residents who leave their hometowns to work in cities.

Since 2008, the country has had three migrant worker NPC deputies.

Prof. Guo Weiqing from Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University told Xinhua, "As the country is working to provide more public services for this group, migrant worker deputies offer a channel to let the authorities understand their real needs."

"This is very important progress in improving the country''s social security programs....Considering the large number of migrant workers and a limited number of deputies, we actually need more deputies to express their voices," he said.

When the three migrant workers took the post of NPC deputies, the public and media questioned whether they could fulfill their responsibilities since they were less educated and had little experience in politics.

From an ordinary migrant worker to an NPC deputy, Hu admits she had little experience and the pressure was "huge."

Hu left her hometown in southwest China''s Sichuan Province for southern Guangdong in 1998 when she was 24 and had only finished nine years of compulsory education.

After being elected an NPC deputy in Guangdong in 2008, Hu made her mobile phone number and email address public in order to be available and seek out the opinions of migrant workers.


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