Typical China phenomenon at year's end: migrant workers threaten to jump off building in protest over unpaid wages in Lanzhou
Confrontations over unpaid wages are common in China in the runup to the lunar new year (it falls on January 31 for the year 2014), often the only time when migrant workers can return home. Many fear they may never be paid if they leave their cities without their wages.
January 3rd, six migrant workers were seen standing on edges of the roof of a nine-storey building on Baiyin Road in Lanzhou, capital city of northwestern China’s Gansu province, Chinanews.com reported.
They were heard shouting “give back our money” on the roof of the building.
They were not performing extreme sports, but protesting over unpaid wages and drawing attention to their problems in this way. They threatened to jump off the building if their demand would not be met.
Their dangerous and extreme protesting form drew a large crowd of onlookers on the streets below. Police were called in to mediate and firefighters arrived at the spot to prevent emergency from happening.
The six migrant workers were representatives of a team of construction workers with Mr. Zhao Yi as labor contractor. They had contracted a building project from the Tian’an Construction Machinery Engineering Co., Ltd. which is headquartered in the building as early as in July 2012. But after they finished the project, the company did not pay their wages according to contract. In total 24 workers were owed 240000 yuan. Representatives of the workers had kept asking for their unpaid wages for the last five months but the company just dodged to pay on various excuses.
When all routine channels failed to claim their unpaid wages, six of them thought of the extreme jump-off-building publicity stunt to draw attention to their plight and it proved to be effective.
The six men were persuaded to get down from the building roof after the company promised to fully pay their unpaid earnings. They received 180000 yuan, or 75% of the total unpaid amount shortly after they got down with interference from multiple parties, according to Chinanews.com.
Whether they will get the last 25% of their wages is unknown. Anyway, in this country where independent trade unions are not allowed to exist and labor rights are frequently ignored, this appears to a satisfactory outcome they can expect.