Migrant workers in Wuhan, China, who built the hospitals prominently featured in Beijing’s coronavirus propaganda videos have not yet received their full salaries despite the Communist Party claiming the city’s outbreak is over, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Wednesday.
The Party enticed construction workers from around China with the prospect of 3,000 yuan per day ($423) to join efforts on building the two field hospital sites at Leishenshan and Huoshenshan shortly after the virus started spreading.
Worker’s salaries were supposed to have come from a one-billion-yuan emergency fund from the central government in Beijing, intended to show the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) commitment to overcoming the pandemic. The generous salaries were reportedly a result of the pressure placed on workers to finish the facilities, as well as the risks they faced from potential exposure to coronavirus patients.
China claims it successfully completed the two hospitals in under two weeks. A migrant worker surnamed Xue revealed on Chinese social media how he and his colleagues only received 500 yuan ($70) and were left stranded on the site by the state-run China Construction Corporation, unable to return home during the lockdown.
An informed source who spoke with RFA about the projects explained that the workers were likely hired by a subcontractor and had illegally been forced to pay for their own expenses during the quarantine.
“There will definitely be layer upon layer of subcontractors [being used], for example, the design … or the most physically tiring labor will be contracted out,” said the woman, who identified herself only as Wu. “That’s always the way. They tender it to a contractor who in turn hires subcontractors.”
“A lot of workers will take dangerous work because labor is relatively cheap in China,” she continued. “Of course it’s noble of them to work in life-threatening conditions, and it’s actually pretty cheap too.”
The American-funded news service contacted multiple organizations responsible for overseeing the project and its staff, although they all declined to comment or failed to answer the phone.
China claims life in Wuhan is returning to normal after infection rates slowed in the city where the outbreak began, with the all lockdown restrictions set to be lifted on April 8th. At the peak of the quarantine, around 56 million people in the city and the surrounding Hubei province were forced to self-isolate while all travel was suspended.
As of Thursday morning, there were 961,589 recorded cases of the coronavirus worldwide, leading to 49,165 deaths. Over 200,000 have already made a full recovery.