Olympic workers mistreated
Over 700,000 rural Chinese migrants are enduring ‘spartan' living conditions in Beijing according to the intenational agency, Human Rights Watch (HRW). Almost one million Chinese have migrated from rural areas to Beijing to work on thousands of construction projects ahead of this year's Olympic Games. Employers house the workers on-site in dormitory-style dwellings and provide meals for the workers at food canteens in exchange for a daily wage deduction of seven to 10 Yuan (€0.6 to €0.86). The workers earn between 50 and 100 yuan (€4.3 to €8.6) per day.
Up to 20 men share 10-bed dormitories that were uninsulated and unheated through Beijing's bitterly cold winter. Workers complained that the quantity and quality of the food provided by their employers was inadequate to sustain them for their daily long hours of hard physical labor. Rural migrants are unskilled in construction, and HRW describes dangerous working conditions. The Times newspaper reported in January that 10 workers have died on Olympic construction sites; Chinese officials put the death toll at six. Two workers have fallen to their death from atop the iconic ‘Birds Nest' Olympic stadium.
Most migrant workers are precluded from securing accident insurance due to China's discriminatory household registration (hukou) system – only urban residents may register for social services in urban areas, a measure intended to dissuade mass migration from impoverished rural areas to cities. The “vast majority” of an estimated 700,000 annual industrial accidents in China befall migrant workers.
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