A Chinese factory owner in southeast China reportedly paid around bricks to his workers instead of paying them 90,000 yuan (USD14,050).
Around 30 workers, almost all of whom are migrants, were forced to live "by candlelight, with wood fire heating" in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, while they toiled away without being paid, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
The workers had to contact their local labor department in order to ask for their unpaid wages. However, the owner, instead of money, decided to give them 290,000 bricks. He still owes them around 10,000 yuan.
The workers accepted the payment, odd as it may be.
It's not surprising, though, considering the dire circumstances of migrant workers in China.
The story sheds spotlight on the treatment of over 281 million Chinese migrant workers, a term used for rural laborers who leave farms in order to work in factories and construction. Despite making up a huge chunk of the country's workforce, they are marginalized and discriminated against. The controversial hukou (household registration) system denies them access to public services in the cities.
A 2012 Guardian opinion piece stated how "'No Dogs or Chinese' signs put up by western colonialists in the 1920s and 1930s have been replaced by the 'No Dogs or Peasants' signs at shopping malls in the cities."
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Navesh Chitrakar