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Standards to Highlight Firms' Social Obligations
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A national research society is busy preparing a set of standards on corporate social responsibility.


China Enterprise Reform and Development Society said the final version of standards will be finished in May next year.


Labor rights, environmental protection and resource saving, as well as charitable obligations, are the focus of the standards, Xi Jianguo, general secretary of the society, told China Daily on Friday.


"With the number of workers' rights violations on the rise, it's high time for us to force enterprises to take up their social obligations," said Xi. "But we are short of standards for enterprises to follow."


He said the standards will help enterprises nationwide better understand their social responsibility, which goes beyond charitable activities.


"The bottom line is to protect the rights of workers and value lives," said Xi.


The concept of social responsibility is quite new for domestic enterprises as China is still a developing economy, said Xi.


Xi's team is drafting a set of detailed labor protection standards, tailored to the ground reality in China.


"We must face the real situation and start with the basics, such as workplace safety and payment guarantee," said Xi. "These issues have been settled in developed countries."


Every year at least 130,000 workers die in workplace accidents and every day nearly 18 coal miners perish in various accidents.


Meanwhile, there are a growing number of cases concerning private enterprises violating workers' rights. A recent official survey found that nearly 80 percent of China's private firms refuse to sign labor contracts with their employees.


And statistics also indicated that 13 percent of employees' salaries were lower than the government's minimum salary requirements and 8 percent of employees did not receive payments on time or at all.


Xi said his society will mobilize the media and the public to participate in the initiative once the set of standards is finished. "We should name and shame those enterprises violating labor laws and pressure them to behave well," said Xi.


The corporate social responsibility standards will also encourage enterprises to be environmentally friendly and save resources, said Xi. "National standards, such as water consumption and electricity utilization stipulated by laws are minimal requirements and responsible enterprises should voluntarily abide by them."


(China Daily December 31, 2005)


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