Zhao Lupo is a hero. The 40-year-old migrant worker from Anhui reportedly saved five people during the devastating rainstorm that hit suburban Beijing last week. But when he went to the local village disaster relief office he was told to get lost because local villagers had priority in the distribution of relief supplies.
As the gap between China’s urban and rural economies continues to expand, the largest rural-urban migration in world history persists. When those from the countryside arrive in the city, the current hukou system blocks their access to the social services that urban residents take for granted. While many join the ranks of China’s “left-behind children” as their parents toil in the city, those who go along often rely on migrant schools for their primary education – while they could attend a public school, the typical fees required far exceed a migrant family’s income.
During his concert tour of Hong Kong last week, “New Worker” Sun Heng once again called the public’s attention to the threatened closure of the Tongxin Primary School for the children of migrant workers, which he helped set up on a deserted factory site on the outskirts of Beijing in 2005.
China’s new Social Security Law, which went into effect on 1 July 2011, stipulates that uninsured workers who suffer a work-related injury can apply to a local government Work-related Injury Fund for an advance payment if their employer refuses to pay compensation. However, an investigation by a legal-aid centre in Beijing shows that one year after the implementation of the Social Security Law, the vast majority of municipal governments are refusing to set up an advance payments system.
Migrant workers are a lot happier working in relatively smaller cities away from China’s traditional factory to the world, the Pearl River delta, according to a new study conducted by the People’s University of China (中国人民大学).
China said the number of people living in cities exceeded the rural population for the first time, a historic shift that experts said would put a strain on society and the environment. The change marks a turning point for China, which for centuries was a mainly agrarian nation but has witnessed a huge population shift to cities over the past three decades as people seek to benefit from rapid economic growth.
The Beijing municipal government increased the capital’s minimum wage by 8.6 percent on 1 January this year, and the Shenzhen government has announced it will increase its minimum wage to 1,500 yuan a month on 1 February, making it once again the highest minimum wage in China.
China has shut down 24 schools for the children of migrant workers in Beijing forcing more than 14,000 students to drop out, state media said, sparking anger among parents who say they face discrimination.
Around 30 private schools, set up to provide a basic education for the children of migrant workers in Beijing, have been ordered to close, leaving nearly 30,000 students with an uncertain future as the new school year begins, the Beijing News reported today.