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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Migrant worker pay disputes surge with coming of holiday

By Liang Yiwen  (Shanghai Daily)

08:34, January 05, 2012

Non-local workers' labor disputes often surge around the start of the new year, as they seek to get their unpaid salaries before they leave the city for their hometowns.

Out of frustration, migrant workers were found blockading office buildings or holding banners to protest and demand their delayed salaries last month.

Fewer than 30 percent of these workers turn to the government or a labor union for help, according to a survey of 1,000 migrant workers launched by the Shanghai Youth League.

Domestic firms are required to set up labor unions, but many of them fail to carry out their functions.

Yan Gaoyi, a construction worker, chose to solve the problem by himself when his employer did not pay him. He called the subcontractor every day to demand his wages, yet it took several months before he finally was paid.

Yan said he nevertheless might work for the subcontractor again. He said reporting the pay delay to the government would ruin his relationship with this employer.

The phenomenon of pay suspension prevails among construction workers.

A survey found that three-quarters of Shanghai construction workers had not signed a recruitment contact, putting them at a disadvantage in getting timely payment for their jobs.

Hundreds of migrant workers blockaded four office buildings in Shanghai's Hongqiao area to demand unpaid wages from the buildings' developers on December 20. Contractors organized the migrant workers to exert pressure on the building's developer, which owned them money.

On December 13, dozens of salespersons, many of them non-locals, stood at the front of the Shanghai Zhongshan Plaza demanding their salary and commission amounting to about 4 million yuan (US$635,526) from SOHO, a company that had recently purchased the plaza.

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