National and Local Authorities Struggle to Limit Wage Arrears and Force Back Wages to Be Paid

May 9, 2005

Central and local governments continue to find it hard to ensure that employers pay wages owed to migrant manufacturing workers fully and promptly. At the beginning of 2005, Premier Wen Jiaobao issued regulations imposing fines on work units that withhold wages, pay less than the minimum wage, or fail to keep honest time sheets, reports the Southern Daily. Officials would impose fines and lift the licenses of labor recruitment brokers who cheat workers.

On April 1, the Guangdong provincial government followed suit, implementing its wage payment regulations, as reported on the Ministry of Justice Web site. Provincial officials also cautioned work units to control not only the wages of their own employees, but also those of subcontractors.

Despite these new regulations, severe problems remain, as an incident in Zhengzhou city in Henan province demonstrates. The Ministry of Justice Web site reports that 100 men attacked some 200 migrants with knives and pipes, badly wounding many of the migrants, who were trying to collect back wages from two construction companies. The State Council sent an investigative team, which found that the workers were not paid. Investigators found the attackers to be connected to local construction companies, and the miscreants were arrested. The local government punished the companies administratively, and their managers were required to visit the injured workers in the hospital.