Migrant worker


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Migrant workers (农民工) refer to rural laborers working in cities. China has more than 120 million migrant workers and the figure is likely to reach 300 million by 2020. At least one-third of them are women aged between 17 and 25.

The work of migrant workers has translated into 16 percent of China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the past 20 years, according to a report released in June by the United Nation's Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) and the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Hundreds of millions of migrant workers in China are expected to get their wages more easily under a regulation aimed at more effectively punishing employers who refuse to pay them.

The regulation specifies measures that human resources and social security authorities should take in various cases in which enterprises or individuals deliberately avoid paying workers. Cases will be handed more smoothly to judicial authorities for criminal prosecution.

It has been a long-standing problem that employers - especially in fields that employ large numbers of migrant workers, such as housing construction - delay or refuse to pay the workers, resulting in complaints or social conflicts.

In a recent case that aroused public attention, a female migrant worker was allegedly beaten to death during a confrontation with local police.

About 10 migrant workers who were trying to enter a construction site in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on Dec 13, 2014 to demand their salaries argued with guards, who stopped them for not wearing safety helmets.

When the police arrived, a brawl broke out between Zhou Xiuyun, a 47-year-old female worker, and the officers. The fight led to Zhou's death.

Three police officers have been detained on suspicion of abusing their power, and the incident is under investigation.


The amended Compulsory Education Law, which comes into effect in China on September 1, 2006, contains a new provision that ensures the right to education for children of migrant workers no matter where they live. The provision stipulates that when both parents or legal guardians are migrant workers living and working with their children in locations other than where the family is registered, local governments where they live and work must provide for the child's education.


The government has earmarked 2 billion yuan (US$250 million) from the state budget for a training program for migrant peasants working in cities. The program will use funding support from local governments to improve the skills of 8 million migrant workers over the next five years.

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