Xiao Huazhong had been seeking 190,000 yuan, the amount he should be legally entitled to, but accepted the lower award because he is currently seriously ill in hospital, has already spent his entire life savings of around 80,000 yuan on medical care, and is faced with additional hospital bills of several hundred yuan a day.
However, the case only came to a resolution after Xiao’s son Deng Jianghu sought the help of occupational disease activist Zhang Haichao, who came to national fame last year after voluntarily undergoing open-chest surgery in order to prove he had pneumoconiosis.
Zhang visited Xiao at the West China No.4 Hospital last month, along with nationally renowned occupational injury lawyer Zhang Shiqian, and promised: “Don’t worry Uncle Xiao. Without doubt, we will help you get justice.”
The case was then picked up by the national media and even given prominent coverage by China Central Television news, which highlighted the problems migrant workers with no formal employment contract have in obtaining compensation for work-related injury and occupational illness.
There seems little doubt that this national exposure was the key to persuading the local authorities to pressure the plaintiff, coal mine boss Liao Xing’an into finally accepting his responsibility for Xiao’s illness and compensating him accordingly.