Construction workers from Wuhan say dance was the only way to draw attention to problems.
They have occupied factories and taken to the streets. But Chinese workers chose a more unusual form of protest when they highlighted their unpaid wages by dancing Gangnam Style outside the nightclub they had built.
The construction workers from Wuhan said they had concluded it was the only way to draw attention to their problems.
Confrontations over unpaid wages are common in the runup to the lunar new year, often the only time when migrant workers can return home. Many fear they may never be paid if they leave their cities without their wages.
The leader of the dancers, who gave his name only as Mr Lu, told the Wuhan Evening News that in total 40 workers were owed 233,000 yuan (£23,300).
«There have been many creative protests over the last few years. Younger workers in particular are very media-savvy and clued-in,» said Geoff Crothall of the Hong-Kong-based China Labour Bulletin.
«They have weibo [microblog] accounts and make sure people are aware of the fact they are going to do this performance and get the local media on board … It’s fair to say you have a better chance of success if you can get publicity for your case.»
Last year, children as young as five protested over their parents’ unpaid wages, holding signs with slogans such as: «I want to eat, go to school, drink milk and eat biscuits.»
More recently, a migrant worker became an internet hit by imitating a bureaucrat calling for the payment of overdue earnings in a video, after other attempts to win redress failed.
Crothall said delayed payment was «absolutely routine». Many workers end up permanently out of pocket if bosses with financial problems decide to flee.
«We are talking hundreds of billions of yuan a year [tens of billions of pounds],» he added.
The problem is particularly acute in the construction industry, where workers often have to wait for a single lump sum payment at the end of the year and money trickles down through tiers of subcontractors to the labourers – if it appears at all.
But Crothall said there were also a growing number of factory cases.
The manager of the Wuhan construction company said it was still awaiting full payment from the developers of the nightclub, who said they would pay up once problems with the project were resolved.