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Shanxi Scandal Gives Urgency to Labor Contract Draft Law

Chinese lawmakers on Sunday slashed the forced labor scandal in north Shanxi Province and suggested the top legislature ratify the labor contract law as soon as possible to protect legal rights of employees.

The members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) made the remarks during their deliberation of the draft labor contract law in their ongoing 28th session.

Fan Duixiang, deputy director of the Standing Committee of Shanxi Provincial People's Congress, said investigations of local kilns and collieries found that 2,036 of the 3,347 brick kilns were operating without all the legal licenses and illegally used 53,036 migrant workers.

Zheng Gongcheng, member of the NPC Standing Committee, said the forced labor scandal has shown that to protect employees' legal rights is a pressing task.

NPC Standing Committee member Li Lianning said relevant items of the draft labor contract law, if adopted, can be well applied to illegal labor cases like the scandal in Shanxi.

"I suggest the NPC Standing Committee vote for the draft labor contract law this time, then it can take effect as soon as possible," Li said.

NPC sources said that the bill is likely to be adopted by lawmakers at the end of their six-day session.

The forced labor scandal in Shanxi made headlines all over China in early June, sparking outrage among the public and arousing great concern from top leaders. The workers were forced to work long hours without payment in brickyards, mines and other small works.

Shanxi provincial governor Yu Youjun has apologized over the forced labor scandal, promising to do everything in his power to root out the illegal practices.

(Xinhua News Agency June 25, 2007)

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