Chinese legislators have helped millions of migrant workers get defaulted wages and shut down tens of thousands of small, illegal coal mines in the past years, as part of their efforts to supervise the government's work and promote social harmony, top legislator Wu Bangguo said Saturday.
Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, made the remarks while delivering a report on his committee's work over the past five years.
Migrant laborers from rural areas, whose number is estimated at 210 million, have become a pillar of the country's work force, but they face various problems, including pay arrears, work-place injury compensation, health care and their children's schooling.
Wu said that legislators found in 2003 in their inspections, visits and appeal letters from ordinary citizens that many migrant workers' wages were defaulted.
The finding prompted the NPC Standing Committee to call on governments at all levels and concerned departments to adopt effective measures to solve the problem.
Statistics show that as of the end of 2006, all arrears due to rural migrant workers in cities since 2003 or before, totaling 33.7 billion yuan (4.7 billion U.S. dollars), had been paid, Wu said.
The legislators have also helped strengthen the country's work safety in the past years.
Wu said that the NPC Standing Committee proposed in 2005 that the number of major large-scale gas explosions in coal mines should be greatly reduced within about two years, and that strong efforts should be made to resolve the problem of small, illegal coal mines within three years to address the serious problem of coal mine safety in China.
"The State Council attached great importance to this proposal and promptly called an executive conference to carry out a special study and make arrangements for production safety work," Wu said.
As of the end of 2007, 11,200 small, illegal coal mines had been closed, and the number of major, large-scale gas explosions was down 46.3 percent and the number of fatalities down 65.4 percent in 2007 compared to the figures for 2005, he said.
"With the concerted effort of all parties involved, real progress has been made through the oversight work of the NPC in solving certain problems with an overall impact that have long awaited resolution," Wu told nearly 3,000 legislators at the ongoing NPC annual session.
In addition to making laws, the NPC's oversight of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate is another important duty and power granted to the NPC and its Standing Committee by the Constitution and laws.
The NPC Standing Committee has also helped resolve the problem of arrears in export tax rebate payments, promoted fairness in the judicial system, such as clearing up the problem of people being held for excessively long periods of time without sentencing - an issue that has drawn a strong reaction from deputies and the general public, Wu said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2008)