There is little Lunar New Year cheer for China's migrant workers as the country's economic slowdown takes its toll.

Video transcript:

For almost two months, Mr. Zhang has been sleeping two to a bed in his sub-zero workers' dormitory. There's no power, no water and no money.

After the housing project they worked on went bust, the developer turned off the electricity and skipped town with eight months of wages. An increasing number of migrant workers have been left fighting for their salaries, as the economy slows and development projects grind to a halt.

Two workers were recently detained after protesting in front of the city government to demand their missing paychecks. The workers say they've gone from victim to criminal, as authorities seem to care more about social stability than workers' rights.

"The local (government) they don't want to know, they just use all kinds of excuses to stall - the developers don't have any money, we're looking into it, today, tomorrow," Fan Fu, a migrant worker from Sichuan said. "Now we migrant worker brothers are about to celebrate the Chinese New Year, we've got parents and children to look after, there's nothing we can do."

And it's not just the construction industry that's feeling the pain.

"The general slowdown in the economy has caused lots of problems in manufacturing, construction, mining pretty much every sector that you care to name.," said Geoffrey Crothall, from the China Labor Bulletin.

The government now has a delicate balancing act to stop labour disputes from getting out of hand. These workers say they just want what's owed to them, then they want to go home.