The Supreme People's Procuratorate has recommended harsh punishment for those who maliciously default on wages, a move to protect the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers.
It said procuratorates nationwide recovered more than 340 million yuan ($53.4 million) in unpaid wages for migrant workers from 2019 to 2020.
They also approved the arrest of more than 3,800 people and prosecuted 6,644 for the crime of refusing to pay remuneration from 2018 to 2020.
People who fabricate labor contracts in migrant workers' names will also be severely penalized, it said in a notice issued on Wednesday.
Procuratorial organs at all levels were told to cooperate with local courts and public security organs to speed up the handling of cases involving arrears owed to migrant workers.
Coordination between procuratorates and departments of human resources and social security, housing and urban development, and transport should be enhanced to establish a mechanism for sharing information on how migrant workers collect their wages to enable the provision of prompt assistance, the notice said.
It also urged procuratorates to diversify the means used to address such problems, improve the efficiency of receiving and handling letters and visits from migrant workers and to issue procuratorial suggestions to regulators in a timely manner to curb such problems at the source.
In one case, a labor contractor at a construction company surnamed Zhang hired 25 people to work from 2019 to January last year in Daye, Hubei province. The company paid Zhang 570,000 yuan in January last year to pay the workers' wages, but he only paid a small part of the wages and withheld 430,200 yuan.
After several workers reported the situation to the local human resources and social security bureau, Zhang paid another 67,000 yuan but refused to pay the rest.
In July last year, local police investigated the case and the local procuratorate approved Zhang's arrest. He later paid the arrears.
Also on Wednesday, a State Council executive meeting called for measures to ensure migrant workers receive the remuneration they deserve. A special winter campaign, with the construction sector as a priority area, will be carried out to address the wage arrears of migrant workers.
Withholding wages will be severely penalized, and officials who fail in handling such issues will be named and held accountable, it said.