Poor working conditions lead migrants home

10:03, March 22, 2010      

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A majority of migrant workers are working overtime and some left east and south China in 2009, according to a report on migrant workers released Friday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Migrant workers on average work 26 days a month, or 58.4 hours a week, 14.4 hours more than the legal limit of 44 hours a week according to the country's Labor Law, the report said. It also said that the average monthly salary of migrant workers grew 77 yuan ($11.28) in 2009 from the year before, or 5.7 percent, to 1,417 yuan ($207.58).

The number of migrants working in the Pearl River Delta area, China's largest manufacturing center, declined by 9.54 million people, or 22.5 percent, to 32.82 million in 2009.

And the Yangtze River Delta, another manufacturing center, saw the number of migrants working there fall by 2.38 million people, or 7.8 percent of the total in 2008.

Liu Lei is one of the migrant workers who went back home last year from the Pearl River Delta.

The 21-year-old started working at a motorcycle factory in Dongguan, Guangdong Province in 2008. He would stand by the assembly line putting the same components on the motorcycles, over and over again.

When there were rush orders, he had to work more than 12 hours a day and had no weekends off.

Now he is working at a factory in his hometown in the north of Hunan Province. His assignment is to assemble one unit of a digit control machine tool by himself each month. Usually he takes one day off every week in the first three weeks of the month, and finishes the job a few days before deadline.

"I enjoy myself in Internet bars and while away the days I take off, or just begin working on the next machine tool," Liu said. "The beauty of this job is that I can control my own tempo and I don't make much less money than my previous job in Guangdong. Plus, I can go back home anytime when my parents need me for the rice harvest or for any emergency."

He lives near the factory in town during working days, and it's only a 20-minute ride by motorcycle to get to his family's home in the countryside. Liu's two cousins, who had been working in Guangdong Province for years, also went back home last year and are now working at local ceramic factories. Hundreds of local residents are working in these newly-opened factories, though they offer no formal contracts and no insurance or benefits at all, according to Liu.

Only 42.8 percent of migrant workers have a formal contract with their employers, and in the construction industry the figure is as low as 26 percent, according to the NBS report.

The situation for migrants' social insurance is even worse. Only 21.8 percent have employment injury insurance, while 12.2 percent have medical insurance and 7.6 percent have pension insurance.

Source: Global Times
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