Migrant Worker Receives 615,000 Yuan Compensation for Occupational Disease

Xinhua reports on Zhang Haichao’s recent legal compensation win. Zhang sought compensation for workplace-related lung disease.

A migrant worker who was denied compensation for a debilitating occupational lung disease has finally received compensation after two years of campaigning to have his case recognized.

Zhang Haichao, 28, who made headlines in China in the past couple of years, said Wednesday he had received a compensation of 615,000 yuan (91,000 U.S. dollars) from the brick factory in the central Henan Province where he used to work.

Zhang fought two years for treatment and compensation after contracting pneumoconiosis, a debilitating lung disease, from working at Zhendong Wearable Material Co. Ltd, a company that produces silicic bricks and fireproof materials.

Zhang said. “I feel lucky that so many people were concerned about me. But I hope that more attention will be given to migrant workers so that it will not be so difficult for us to safeguard our legal rights.”

Read also Donald Clarke’s comments on Chinese Law Prof Blog, excerpted here:

The story is interesting in itself, but the broader issue for the legal system is why it relies so much on these formal procedures for evidence. This doesn’t occur just in worker’s compensation cases, although here the rules of evidence go beyond mere formalism and seem almost deliberately designed to discourage claims. It occurs in other areas of law as well, where documents must be properly notarized even though there is not any real doubt as to their authenticity. Some of this obsession for formal authentication can perhaps be traced to civil law influences on China’s legal system, but since China has in other parts of its legal system felt free to ignore what’s done in continental Europe, I think the real answer to this still lies in Chinese legal culture. And it’s a bit puzzling, since most of the time when state officials make decisions, they are not artificially constrained in the types of information they can take into account. Strict rules of evidence make more sense in jury systems, when there is a concern that lay people might misinterpret certain kinds of information. But China doesn’t have juries (the system of “people’s assessors” can’t really be compared to the jury system), so what’s the problem?

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