The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security is requiring construction firms to provide their workers with sufficient injury insurance to safeguard them financially from possible workplace accidents. No construction permits will be given to projects in China which fail to provide workers with injury insurance, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The decision was made jointly with the State Administration of Work Safety and the All China Federation of Trade Unions.
Mr Li Dajun, an organizer of a migrant workers' group, said that almost 90% of workers in China's construction sector are not protected by a contract or provided with injury insurance. He derived this estimate from the hundreds of construction sites that he has visited in China.
According to a statement by the Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, Hu Xiaoyi, the Chinese construction sector hires almost 45 million workers, and nearly 36 million of the said workers are susceptible to abuse and violations of basic employee rights.
Another problem in the Chinese construction sector is subcontracting of work to agents who are not qualified, which is an illegal practice that must be tackled, according to Li Huilin of Peking University. Construction companies rely on subcontractors that engage labour recruitment companies which in turn further subcontract the work. It could take six to seven subcontracting levels before finally finding the direct hirer of the workers, the South China Morning Post reported. The workers are mainly migrant labourers, who are not documented when they move from their small towns or villages to find work in the cities.