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February 13, 2010

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Fund aids workers after bosses disappear

LI Tingfa, a Yunnan Province native, counted his money - 3,000 yuan (US$439), payment for his three months' hard work but delayed by his boss. Not a large amount, but enough to buy a train ticket home.

"I'm leaving town and will never come back until I find a stable job in the city," said the 20-year-old migrant worker. Waving goodbye to the factory where he had worked for five months, Li rushed to the railway station.

Another 97 migrant workers had joined Li in the queue to get their salaries from local government officials at a small factory in Zhujing Town, Jinshan District, on Tuesday. Despite the fact that the boss of the factory had run away and delayed the payments, workers were able to catch the last trains heading home with the help of the local government and a back-pay guarantee fund.

The fund, set up 10 years ago in Shanghai, helps pay the salaries owed to workers at companies or factories which have collapsed or whose bosses have disappeared.

Li's factory, manufacturing luggage, has been under the management of the Jinshan District government since its boss disappeared on January 30.

The factory's account has been frozen, and its assets will be auctioned in three months' time with the proceeds paid back in to the fund.

In Jinshan, more than 200 small businesses delayed payments to workers last year, some 33.35 million yuan but down from more than 40 million yuan in 2008, said Pan Yuxian, an official from the Jinshan Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.

In January, more than 500 workers for a Taiwan company received their salaries and compensation after their boss ran away six months ago. The workers had blocked roads in protest.

But Pan said the number of such incidents was decreasing. In past five years, about 187 million yuan had been paid back to more than 147,000 workers. And 5.3 million yuan, or 41 percent, went back into the fund.

Du Peng, 21, another migrant worker from Hunan Province, received a payment of 1,000 yuan that had been delayed for two months at the luggage factory.

Du had worked from 7:30am to 9:30pm Monday to Saturday for 80 yuan per day, but was never paid.

He had to make 1,000 suitcases a day and if he failed to meet the target, had to work overnight.

"I worked for three days without sleep last week, the boss praised me for my hard work and promised to pay me the salary," said Du.

But the boss disappeared after the factory went bust.


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