CHINA

Migrant workers, the new slaves

Material compiled by Zhang, our editor for the Chinese region Today there are an estimated 200 million migrant workers in China (120 million according to official figures), the majority of whom are peasants from the south who settle in the eastern cities to work in construction, restoration, and mining. They work 11 hours a day, sometimes more, under difficult conditions and for an average wage of 60 euros a month. They do not benefit from any social protection or medical care. And they have no rights to challenge their employer.      

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Material compiled by Zhang, our editor for the Chinese region.

Today there are an estimated 200 million migrant workers in China (120 million according to official figures), the majority of whom are peasants from the south who settle in the eastern cities to work in construction, restoration, and mining. They work 11 hours a day, sometimes more, under difficult conditions and for an average wage of 60 euros a month. They do not benefit from any social protection or medical care. And they have no rights to challenge their employer.

Migrant worker testimony

Here's what the old man says, before bursting into tears: "I came here for a four-year contract. I worked for an extra three months but my employer did not pay me. He says the government will not pay. I only eat vegetables and grains. I come from the province of Henan. I do not have enough money to return home.... My wife suffers from cataracts and she cannot see anymore. I do not have the money to fix her sight. I cannot return home in this state..."

This video was originally posted on www.tvix.cn.

 

Life on a construction site

This video was originally posted on www.qiuhao.com.

Tightrope walker...

This man works on a façade, several meters high, without a safety device.

This video was originally posted on www.56.com.

Migrant worker interviewed by Chinese student: "He works 11 and a half hours a day..."

This blog published several essays about the problems of the migrant workers, written by Chinese students. The following is one of the essays.

Jiang Yousheng arrived in Jiansu Qidong (a city near Shanghai) in 1992 and settled there. At the beginning, he and his wife earned 5,000 yuan a year (€465) while working in a brick and tile factory. It was much more than they could have ever earned in their village.

 

Today, they make 30,000 yuan a year (€2,800), because Jiang was promoted to a managerial position. Even so, this salary does not cover the school expenses for his children. He works from 1.30am until 8.00am and then again from midday until 5.00pm, that is 11 and a half hours a day....

For the past five or six years, the local police have asked him to pay an additional fee for his housing. They say Jiang owes this money because his housing is deemed 'temporary'. However, the money goes directly into the pockets of the police officers.

It was not easy to interview Jiang. Migrant workers do not like to talk about their lives. They often change jobs, they do not sign contracts, and they are dependent on the goodwill of their employers to be paid.... the authorities do not assume responsibility for these people. For the migrant worker, justice does not exist."