China’s largest annual migration will soon kickoff as China’s migrant workers head home to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which falls at the end of January in 2017. In the month of December, protests over wage arrears surged, particularly in the construction industry, as workers took collective action to ensure they do not go home empty-handed.
Despite years of efforts to prevent them, government officials still struggle to prevent this annual surge in worker protests. In a recent interview, top officials from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security pointed to the industry’s widespread usage of subcontractors, flimsy governmental oversight and general economic downturn as factors that contribute to arrear disputes, and noted that worker collective actions remain extremely common for workers experiencing wage arrears.
Across the country construction workers blocked roads, protested at government buildings and even threatened suicide to get the attention of the local government and pressure their bosses to pay them their wages.