Taiyuan Government Says Workers at Illegal Coal Mines Have to Take Responsibility for Their Death

From People’s Daily, via sohu.com, translated by CDT:

The government won’t pay for the death of peasant workers who are working at illegal coal mines, said the Taiyuan Bureau of Land Resources. Instead, workers and mine owners will have to take responsibility for mine accidents and deaths, the bureau said in the Notice to Migrant Workers, of which it printed 100,000 issues. The “admonition” brought about disputes from various quarters.

Officials at the bureau said that for a long time, illegal coal mines have been operating despite repeated bans and punishments. One reason is the greediness of mine owners who organize unauthorized mining; another reason is the participation of peasant workers. Last year, the Taiyuan government launched several campaigns to clean up illegal mines, but enticed by illegal mines’ high salaries, many workers who had been banned in the campaigns returned to mines despite the high risks.

In regard to these situations, the Taiyuan Bureau of Land Resources launched another campaign against peasant workers working at illegal coal mines. After increasing their workforce, the government conducted an uninterrupted tour of inspection in places where illegal mines grouped, and knocked down dwelling huts and abandoned mines. At the same time, the bureau stepped up its propaganda campaign in illegal mining areas. It printed and posted large-sized banners in villages, stores, and dwelling areas next to illegal mines. It also printed 100,000 copies of the Notice to Immigrant Workers and distributed it in illegal mining villages.

The notice sincerely and earnestly educated peasant workers about the dangers of working at illegal coal mines, and admonished them to keep their distance from illegal mines. It also stressed that if workers died from incidents at illegal mines, workers and mine owners have to take the responsibility. The government won’t “pay the check”.

Should the government “pay the check” for workers who die at illegal mines? The admonition from Taiyuan Bureau of Land Resources brought on disputes from many quarters. Advocates said that to fight illegal mines the government should adopt multiple resolutions. It should not only heavily punish illegal mine owners, but should also punish peasant workers who participate in illegal mining. Opponents said that aside from the enticement of rich returns from illegal mines, the government’s misconduct should also be blamed for the existence of illegal mines, thus the government should take a certain responsibility for peasant workers whose interests are damaged while working at illegal mines.


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