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September 17, 2009

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Black lung victim finally wins case

A MIGRANT worker who was denied compensation for a debilitating occupational lung disease has finally received recompense after two years of campaigning to have his case recognized.

Zhang Haichao, 28, who made headlines in China in the past couple of years, said yesterday he had received compensation of 615,000 yuan (US$91,000) from the brick factory in central Henan Province where he worked.

Zhang fought two years for treatment and compensation after contracting pneumoconiosis, a debilitating lung disease, from working at Zhendong Wearable Material Co Ltd, a company that produces silicic bricks and fireproof materials.

"I feel lucky that so many people were concerned about me," Zhang said.

"But I hope that more attention will be given to migrant workers so that it will not be so difficult for us to safeguard our legal rights."

It has taken Zhang both time and physical pain to settle his case.

Results of a medical check, which confirmed his work-related pneumoconiosis, or black lung, were suppressed by his employer. A local agency for occupational disease control failed to provide supporting evidence or order the factory to pay compensation.

Zhang was eventually given treatment and compensation after undergoing a thoracotomy, an operation to gain access to the lungs, of his own volition.

As a result of the case, six health officials and doctors were sacked or suspended.


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