Deadbeat bosses put on notice

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2006, 12:00am

Guangdong wants all due back pay settled before 2007

Guangdong's Labour Department is stepping up efforts to ensure that employers pay workers all due back wages before 2007 and supports making it a criminal offence to fall behind in payments to workers.

The department's director-general, Fang Chaogui, said most of the debt was owed to migrant workers, with the biggest culprits being construction companies. He said he did not have an exact figure on how much pay was outstanding, but it was not a large amount.

Mr Fang said he supported Shenzhen's method of detaining employers who owed salaries and shaming them publicly. He submitted a motion to the National People's Congress last year to add a clause in the criminal law to punish employers who deliberately withheld wages.

He said National People's Congress vice-chairwoman He Luli expressed support for the motion during an inspection tour of Guangdong early this year.

A crackdown on bad paymasters had resulted in a huge drop in workers being made to wait for their pay, a practice that usually intensifies before the Lunar New Year when workers demand their salaries before returning to their hometowns, he said.

The Labour Department received 1.27 million complaints about failure to pay wages and opened hotlines in 20 cities that received 2.8 million calls last year.

An investigation of 16,900 companies last year led to the recovery of 1.2 billion yuan in owed wages. In the past five years, the provincial government has recovered a total of 3.6 billion yuan in owed wages.

Apart from settling salary disputes, the department has also worked to include more workers in various insurance schemes and was particularly effective in providing coverage for industrial accidents, raising the number of workers covered by 32 per cent to 16 million.

The Labour Department hopes to make more progress in providing health insurance over the next five years, raising the number of people covered from 12.6 million to 22 million.