Student workers cheated out of their summer pay

Student workers are leaving their summer jobs and heading back to school. However, some are still struggling to get paid.

High schoolers as young as 16-years-old, the legal minimum age for employment, and university students across the country, often take summer jobs to help with school expenses or help their families back home. Some schools even force students to take summer jobs at companies as in one case this summer where a school in Shenyang issued a public apology for requiring students to work under deplorable conditions at a Foxconn plant in Yantai, Shandong.

While some students work in factories, many, following the growth of China’s consumer-oriented industries, take jobs in the service and entertainment sectors. Student workers in these sectors often lack labour contracts and are paid low wages without benefits or social insurance. All too often, they are misled and cheated out of their wages by unscrupulous employers.

Gym employees refused payment

Student workers at a gym in Lianyungang, Jiangsu, marched through the streets in their work uniforms on 12 August protesting the non-payment of wages.

The students from outside Lianyungang, including some local high schoolers, worked at the gym for over a month. Many worked outside in the summer heat, and some were even hospitalised from heat stroke and had to pay for medical treatment out of pocket.

The gym owner never paid the students and even refused to recognise them as employees, despite ample evidence. When they approached the local labour department for help, the students, who had no labour contracts, were told it was their own fault for lacking legal knowledge.

Dramatic protest at waterpark

More than 100 students took summer jobs for two months at a waterpark in Jianhu, Jiangsu, only to be paid a few hundred yuan. When the boss delayed their full salary payments, the students took action.

One student climbed to the top of a stage during a variety show at the park on 30 August and threatened to jump. The student was coaxed down with the promise of payment, but when no money came the students blockaded the entrance to the park with benches and dump trucks.

Students and their parents flooded the local police department demanding action. Police eventually apprehended the owner of the park and demanded that he pay the 430,000 yuan owed to the students. 

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