Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cost of rights protection for rural migrant workers

David Kelly of the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore has kindly given his permission to republish his summary/translation of the following interesting news item:

Survey of Costs of Rights Protection for Rural Migrant Workers:  Getting 100 Billion Back Will Cost 300 Billion
(Cui Li, China Youth Daily, 2005-6-22)

A Survey Report on Costs of Rights Protection for Chinese Rural Migrant Workers of nearly 30,000 characters was recently produced by the Beijing Youth Center for Legal Aid and Research.  The Report consists of four parts: economic cost, time cost, government cost and legal aid cost of protecting mingong [rural migrant worker] rights. 

Taking demands for wages as an example, the author, Xiao Weidong says, "In order to press for less than RMB 1,000 in wages, completing all procedures, mingong rights protection means paying at least RMB 920  for various expenditures; at least 11 to 21 days must be spent, equivalent to RMB 550 to 1,050  in work lost. The  cost to the country in wages and so on  paid to government service personnel, judges and clerks is at least RMB 1,950 to 3,750. The overall is cost between RMB 3,420 and 5,720." 

"While not every case needs to go through the complete procedure, this is just a conservative estimate which excludes the costs of city lodgings, meals, transport expenses etc., when mingong have to go many times to and from their hometown to the place of work. But based on 17 cases we investigated, in each case the overall cost went beyond RMB 10,000 ." Xiao Weidong indicated that, according to incomplete statistics of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, to mid-November, 2004, some RMB 100 billion in back wages was owed to the nation's mingong. To get this paid back, society as a whole would have pay 300 billion costs. 

Xiao Weidong says they plan to deliver the Survey Report to the National People's Congress, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, and legal institutions of the State Council, in the hope it will prompt people to think about the rights protection system for mingong.

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