Migrant worker asked for his pay, got beating instead

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am

When two brothers finally found their long-lost sibling last month, he was lying in a street near a shopping mall in Rizhao city, Shandong province, lame in his left leg, missing his front teeth and his face scarred by a knife.

The men, who had been searching for Liu Hongjiang for more than a decade, could barely speak to him for weeping.

Mr Liu left home in 1990 at the age of 29 to become a construction worker in Dalian . One year later, he left for another construction site in Rizhao, closer to home and offering better pay.

But before he could send home his first pay packet he was reduced to a cripple by a boss who refused to give him his salary.

Mr Liu approached his boss to collect the 30,000 yuan due to him in the autumn of 1991 but what awaited him was a severe beating and a severed tendon, which left his leg useless. When he regained consciousness the next day he discovered he was lying in a road-side ditch near the border with Jiangsu province .

He began to crawl back to Rizhao. When he finally arrived three months later people were already moving into the block of flats he had helped to build and his former boss was nowhere to be found.

Penniless and disabled, Mr Liu survived on discarded food.

His story, reported by the Xian Evening News yesterday, coincided with the results of Fudan University's 2007 Migrant Workers' Report issued on Saturday and highlights the problems still faced by migrant workers on the mainland despite continuously soaring economic figures.

Of 30,000 migrant workers surveyed, only 7.6 per cent were satisfied with their social status, the report revealed. Of those interviewed, 68 per cent felt urbanites did not fully accept them or did not accept them at all.

About 80 per cent of migrant workers toiled more than eight hours a day, with up to 55 per cent receiving fewer than two days off a month. Heavy workloads raised their potential for accidents and robbed them of potential study time which might improve their lot and their satisfaction with urban life.

Delayed payment is a major problem, as Qin Hushao, from Hebei , put it: 'Beijing has lots of jobs, but the money is hard earned.'

While he earns 1,000 yuan a month, most of his pay is taken up by the rising cost of living in the capital. He has also encountered a great deal of deception and cheating when seeking work. He has not been paid for 50 days' work and cannot find anyone to help him chase up the money.

'Without money you cannot survive here. And without money you cannot even sue,' Mr Qin said. He plans to return home when he gets his money.

Meanwhile, Rizhao police have set up an investigation team to follow up Mr Liu's beating and his family is collecting evidence to bring a lawsuit against the missing boss and the construction company.