Ningxia Officials Address Migrant Workers’ Back Pay After Bus Attack
On 5 January, Ma Yongping, a migrant construction worker angry about unpaid wages, set a public bus on fire, killing seventeen people in Yinchuan, the capital of the northwestern province of Ningxia. Ma had complained on social media about non-payment of his wages, but his grievances had been ignored by local officials. A government report revealed that in the first ten months of 2015, the capital city of Ningxia, Yinchuan, recorded more than five hundred cases of unpaid wages, 22.3 percent more than in the same period of the previous year, involving about ten thousand migrant workers who were owed 1.48 billion yuan. In response, the Ningxia provincial government identified twenty-seven construction companies that had delayed the payment of salaries, subjected them to criminal punishments allowed by the recently amended Chinese Criminal Law (fines and jail terms of up to seven years), and forbade them to bid on future government projects. It also launched a campaign to ensure that companies pay migrant workers on time before the Chinese New Year. On 19 January, the State Council released a strongly worded new opinion on the non-payment of wages for migrant workers, aiming to establish a regulatory regime that ‘keeps the problem of unpaid wages for migrant workers fundamentally in check’ by 2020.