Peasants Kneel for Overdue Salary

For weeks, low-wage workers from Sichuan, China have beeb petitioning on their knees in sub-zero weather.
Peasants Kneel for Overdue Salary

[xtypo_dropcap]F[/xtypo_dropcap]rom the New Year holidays until now, peasants from Sichuan province have been visiting the Zunhua Municipal Office for Petitions and Appeals in Hebei province to inquire about the progress of their overdue salary case. In sub-zero conditions they kneeled down in front of the government building seeking what they are due, but the communist bureaucrats inside ended up disappointing.

On Jan. 13, Sichuan Online published an article titled “Immoral Developer Delays Sichuan Peasants’ Salary, Peasants Seeking Help from the Government.” The article, which included several photos of peasants kneeling down in front of the appeals office, explained how the peasants’ salary had been delayed and that their case had made no progress after they had fought for their rights through various channels.

According to representatives of the group He Dongping and Cheng Mingdi, in Nov. 2009 a group of peasant workers from Bazhong City, Santai City and Yilong City of Sichuan province, and peasant workers from Hebei and Henan provinces, formed the Deng Qiang Labour Team under the lead of a general contractor named Deng Qiang. The team started preparations for constructing Dijing Garden project for a real estate developer.

In March 2010, the project entered its main phase. In August 2010, after completion of the main phase, some of the peasant workers left the worksite.

Over One Million Yuan Overdue

The labour team and general contractor of the project had an agreement with a construction company in Tangshan City, Hebei Province, that upon mobilizing at the construction site, the general contractor would pay 95 percent of the peasant workers’ salary every month for the completed work. “Until now, over 290 peasant workers were involved before and after the construction, among whom about 200 are from Sichuan Province. Their overdue salary is close to 2.5 million yuan (US$378,645),” He Dongping said. “We walk on the path of fighting for our rights because of our overdue salary.”

On Jan. 10, a staff member from Zunhua Municipal Office for Petitions and Appeals claimed that they had received complaints about overdue salary from the workers, but they had already forwarded the details to the Zunhua Labour Monitoring Group to deal with it.

“Yang Desen, coordinator of the contracted project said that the developer only gave him 50 percent of his salary” said Deng Qiang. Yang Sen said that over one million yuan is still owed.

However, Mr. Li, a staff member who works for the developer, said he wasn’t aware of this incident and added that the legal representative of the company is on a business trip and cannot be contacted.

Peasants Face Tough Situation

On Jan. 10, seven days after the New Year holidays and 24 days before the Chinese New Year, some of the peasant workers who had previously left the construction site returned to Zunhua city again.

According to Cheng, once the main project was finished, the temporary work site accommodation was removed, which forced over 50 of the left over peasant workers to take up residence in a hotel. The workers have to pay 50 yuan every day for their accommodation and living expenses. “We really don’t know what to do!” said Cheng Mingdi.

Read the original Chinese article.