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No such thing as a rain check

Scott Tong Sep 19, 2007


Doug Krizner: Shanghai was braced today for what authorities feared would be the biggest typhoon in a decade. More than a million and half people were evacuated in and around Shanghai. Schools and offices were closed.

But the typhoon landed far south and was downgraded to a tropical storm. Still, thousands of migrants lost a day of pay. Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: Migrants from the countryside do almost all the construction work in Shanghai. They make about $8 a day — that’s twice the average income in rural parts of the country.

Today’s rain and typhoon warnings canceled work for this group of five men. They’re constructing the future site of the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.

Today, though, they’re just milling around, complaining about the money they’re not making — money they otherwise would send back to their villages to support their families.

Construction Worker (interpreter): We’re not working today, because the boss canceled us. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid. If we could, we’d definitely work today.

The workers live in shabby, temporary dwellings on the construction site. Since they’re off today, they plan for the foul weather. They wrap their clothes and bedding in plastic, and make plans to scoot into underground subway tunnels should the winds pick up.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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