Trade Union Law Amended

The legal rights of workers and employees are expected to be more solidly protected following the recent amendment of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Trade Union, which took effect on October 27, the same day when it was passed.

The law, approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, stipulates that all workers and employees are authorized to join trade unions.

Organizations or individuals attempting to interfere with the act of joining a trade union are forbidden.

Senior officials from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) said the law accentuates the outstanding function of trade unions in protecting employees' rights.

"The second article of the law has clearly regulated that all the unions in the interest of their members are authorized to protect workers' legal rights," said Liu Heng, vice-chairman of ACFTU.

Liu said that the drop in the number of trade unions across the nation and rampant infringement of workers' legal rights were motivating factors behind the amendment.

"The situation was pressing and even now we are not satisfied," said Liu.

According to the senior official, many newly established private and foreign enterprises refuse to establish trade unions inside their organizations.

ACFTU statistics indicate that among China's 250 million workers, only about 100 million now remain union members and the majority of them work in State-owned enterprises.

"We encourage the development of private and foreign enterprises in China, but at the same time, the owners of the enterprises should be kind to employees and are forbidden to trespass workers' legal rights," said Liu.

According to Liu, ACFTU's long-term aim is to establish trade unions in every workplace.

Hu Min, a member of the Standing Committee of the NPC, said the related authorities and trade unions should pay more attention to the situation of workers in non-State owned enterprises.

"Comparatively, the working conditions and social security are not so ideal in some private, joint-owned and township enterprises," Hu said.

"Overtime work frequently comes to workers, but they get no extra pay, and what's more, some employers go too far by conducting body searches of employees if they think their material has been stolen," Hu said.

"Those workers are really the ones we should place priority on," Hu said.

Li Yining, an economist and NPC legislator, said that trade unions can play a big role in combating growing unemployment after China's entry into the World Trade Organization.

"After the accession, it is inevitable that the unemployment rate will rise, and trade unions can play a big role in maintaining social stability and creating new employment opportunities," said the legislator.

(China Daily November 5, 2001)

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