Over the past year, trade unions in Shanxi province have intervened to help 4,004 migrant workers get back 34.92 million yuan in unpaid wages.
The province has 7.8 million workers, 2 million of whom are migrant workers. Every year, migrant workers suffer wage arrears, which may well lead to an eruption of disputes and threaten social stability.
On December 13, 2013, the Shanxi Provincial Trade Union Federation issued the Circular on Claiming back Unpaid Wages for Migrant Workers, kicking off a campaign to crack down on wage defaulting.
To ensure that the campaign got off to a good start, the trade union federation set up a 90-million-yuan fund to deliver prompt emergency funding to migrant workers suffering wage arrears. Those who were eligible could receive an amount equivalent to 70% of the back pay owed to them by their employers.
During the campaign, some trade unions in the province raised banners reading “Go to the union if you are in trouble!” while others set up offices to deal with complaints from migrant workers and delivered their services to construction sites and mines where most migrant workers are employed. To better protect migrant workers, trade unions teamed up with government departments to come down on employers for prompt payment. Meanwhile, the trade union federation conducted thorough investigations to keep up with what was happening and found solutions to problems that might come up.
During the campaign, the trade union federation persuaded the Party and government to throw their weight behind its plan, pooled society’s efforts in curbing wage arrears and sorted out problems through legal means. To show its support for trade unions, the government opened its wallet for the emergency fund.
The campaign has effectively protected workers’ rights and facilitated harmony between labor and management.