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Labor Rules Give Workers More Security

The new regulation issued by the State Council that goes into effect December 1 is expected to protect workers, especially women and migrant workers, from abuse, inequities and withholding of wages.

Labor and Social Security Minister Zheng Silin said the Regulation on Labor and Social Security Inspection will be a powerful tool to achieve the goals for the mainland's workforce.

The regulation allows labor and social security inspectors to supervise employers, enabling them to investigate whether employers provide equal opportunities, insurance and holidays.

"The regulation is in line with China's Law of Labor Protection and it is expected to play a practical role in protecting the legal rights of millions of Chinese employees," said Zheng.

The country enacted laws on labor protection as early as 1994, but abuses and inequities have persisted in some enterprises and organizations.

Zheng said the new regulation will add specificity to some of the clauses in the law.

The regulation also gives the nation's nearly 10 million migrant workers equal protection.

With the country's sustained, rapid economic growth, the number of women in the job market has continuously grown, and the fields of employment for them have kept expanding. According to official figures, there were 337 million women working in 2003, an increase of 46 million from 1990.

Currently, there are 41.6 million female employees in urban work units, accounting for 38 percent of the total.

However, a trade union survey found that women are often the first to be laid off when enterprises downsize.

This grim reality was outlined in a recent 25-page report issued by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), describing conditions women face in the workplace.

The report was compiled from information gathered between 1978 and 2002 in such provinces as Liaoning, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Gansu.

It found that as reforms have been implemented in the transition to a market economy, industries such as the textile sector and some other female-dominated areas have sustained large-scale layoffs.

The number of urban women employed in the surveyed cities in 2002 was about 41.6 million, down 17.3 million from the 1996 figure.

(China Daily December 1, 2004)

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