Wei Zebo normally can’t wait to go home for Chinese New Year at the end of January. Only this year he doesn’t dare. Like 60 of his construction worker colleagues, he is locked in a dispute with his former employer over back pay worth some 100,000 yuan ($12,390).
“I haven’t plucked up the courage to tell my family. I can’t go back without the money,” said Wei, 35, sitting huddled in a tiny freezing room lit by a single, dim, bare bulb in a gritty, working class area of Beijing. “Look — I’m all packed,” said the native of the northern province of Hebei, gesturing to a small pile of cheap-looking hold-alls sitting atop a bed covered with a filthy quilt. “I just need to be paid.”
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