In the first weeks of 2015, the approach of China’s Spring Festival saw a re-emergence of the phenomenon of rural migrant workers having their wages withheld. The ACFTU issued the Circular on Effectively Addressing the Problem of Wage Arrears for Rural Migrant Workers, setting out some specific measures to fix this problem and safeguard the labour remuneration rights and interests of this group of workers.
In recent years, to tackle the issue, some departments have come up with a series of regulations. However, this headache has not yet gone away. Take a major arrears area like the construction sector as an example. Due to downward economic pressure, some construction projects are confronted with capital shortfall, with the result that a number of local government-invested projects have encountered the problem of project payments being withheld. Enterprises turn to measures like profit concession to underwriters which then take over projects, and construction units face problems like contracting and subcontracting, qualifications being attached to contracts, and weak management, all of which can give rise to the non-payment of wages to rural migrant workers.
＂The withholding of wages has severely affected the normal work and lives of rural migrant workers,＂says the head of the ACFTU worker protection department. ＂If left unsolved, in time it will not only impair the immediate interests of these workers, but also impact on the harmony and stability of society as a whole.＂ The circular places requirements on trade unions at all levels in areas such as targeted inspection of wage payments for rural migrant workers, making the clearing up of overdue wages their principal campaign over the New Year and Spring Festival period, and promoting the establishment of a wage payment guarantee mechanism.