Laohu Miao: “Song of a Migrant Worker Asking for Pay”

[Here is a post from Laohu Miao (Tiger Temple) regarding a plea for help he received from a migrant worker this month. As usual, our translations are rough around the edges, please bear with us.]

Zhang Xinqi, from Henan province, was a worker on the Olympic Forest Park. On July 2nd, 2008 I met him at the construction site and we have since then kept in contact.

After the Olympic [Forest Park] was completed, Zhang Xinqi returned home for a period of time and then returned to Beijing to do construction work. By the end of 2008 the economy was not doing well and business was slow, so Zhang Xinqi was had no choice but to return home again. By the time he came back to Beijing, the Spring Festival had already passed.

On the 13th I received an unexpected text from Zhang Xinqi. Mr. Zhang, hello! Can you help me with something? If you have time I want to talk to you a bit about this. I replied saying that I agreed. Below is the next text message Zhang Xinqi sent me:

“It’s about the work we did in Chaoyang District [a district of Beijing] last year. There was a company from Linqu, Shandong with a manager named Feng Xintang who came looking for us to do some work. He had his subordinate Xiao Hao handle it. He had us install doors and agree to pay us 100 RMB for each door installed.

After we finished we asked for our pay; he said after the New Year he’d give us the money. After the New Year Feng Xintang had us look for Xiao Hao, who had us look for worker Zhang, who had us look for worker Duan, who had us look for manager Ma, who had us started to agree to give the money. After we spoke with him a few times he refused to acknowledge the debt. He wouldn’t answer his phone, so we went back to look for worker Zhang again, he took us to the door we installed but now said he wasn’t dealing with the problem. When we looked for Xiao Hao he said: I’m just working here part-time [dagong], look for the boss!

We went back to look for Wang Xintang*, who said Xiao Hao is the one who had to go to work, ask him for money. What are you doing talking to me? Now we don’t know who to look for. Can you help us look [and get our money]? Even if we don’t find them, we won’t give up. Thank you.”

Who should these migrant workers look for? Everyone help out with suggestions, thank you.

[*It appears that there is a mistake in the text message; Feng Xintang and Wang Xintang seem to be the same person.

This kind of thing isn’t new: migrant workers are refused their wages all the time. Rather we want to echo Tiger Temple’s message and ask what Zhang Xinqi, and people like him, can or should do. We’ll translate good replies and send them along to Tiger Temple.]

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0 thoughts on “Laohu Miao: “Song of a Migrant Worker Asking for Pay””

  1. I’m not quite sure what’s meant by the question at the bottom. Does it mean who should they look for to get their money? If so, it seems like all the people they could be looking for have been exhausted. Does it mean who should they look for to force the managers to give them their money? I would say the police, but it sounds like there’s no proof that the job was ever given to them or that they were to be paid 100 RMB for those doors. A solution for that would be to try to legitimize the job a bit more. You know, put things in writing and all that, rather than basically being scab workers. But again, that would be hard and it would require many hundreds of workers to be asking for the same thing rather than just Zhang Xinqi.

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