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China to Revise Law on Trade Unions

Xinhua, 22 August 2001

BEIJING, August 22 (Xinhua) -- The New York Times published a story in its web edition Wednesday deploring workers' welfare in private businesses in China.

It even described two puzzled young women strolling through a sterile factory zone in Dongguan in South China's Guangdong province who were asked if they are members of a trade union.

Trade union? one questioned. And when asked about workers' rights. What's that? the other responded.

This situation is hopefully going to change as the news report coincides with a legislative decision made in Beijing the same day that the country's 52-year-old law on trade unions will be revised.

According to a meeting of chairman and vice-chairmen of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) held here today, the upcoming legislative session beginning next Monday will examine 6 draft laws, including draft amendments to the trade unions law.

The law was amended once in 1992. But as the structure of China's economy transformed and the non-public owned economic sector boomed in the past decade, economic relations and labor relations have undergone tremendous changes, Zhang Chunsheng, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, told the meeting today.

The work of trade unions is faced with some new and urgent issues that need to be addressed, and the trade unions law must be revised accordingly to better protect the rights of workers, and maintain social stability while promoting reform and economic development, he said.

The draft amendments made it mandatory for enterprises and other organizations with 25 employees or more must set up a trade union.

To counter the ever increasing practices of neglect of workers' safety, poor work conditions, prolonged work hours and other serious infringements of workers' rights, the draft amendments empowered trade unions the right to make representations with related employers and pursue corrections by employers.

A draft decision on designating a Day of National Defense Education will also be submitted to the legislative body for the first hearing.

Other previously reviewed legislation to be discussed in the five-day session beginning next Monday will be on preventing and treating desertification, amending two articles of the criminal code, prevention and treatment of vocational diseases and utilization of territorial waters.

The legislature will also hear reports on the enforcement of the annual economic and social development plan, agricultural developments and farmers' income, and on how the organic law of villagers' committees have been enforced in China.