Regulations to protect Chinese workers abroad from east China's Jiangsu Province are to be issued and implemented by the end of this year, according to the local Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Bureau official Xia Wangsheng said the new rules are currently under draft, and suggestions from related bureaux and social sectors are being collected.
"As Jiangsu has sent a large number of workers to foreign countries in recent years, the number of labour disputes and emergencies involving people from here is relatively higher compared with other provinces. Therefore, to issue such an emergency and response regulation is very necessary," said Xia.
According to Xia, illegal overseas labour service agencies and unexpected disasters are the two main causes for overseas labour disputes and emergencies.
"Unlike those authorized overseas labour agencies, those illegal ones take people's money, get people to foreign countries and then disappear. The welfare and security of those migrant workers are not efficiently protected," said Xia.
There are only 13 authorized overseas employment service companies in Jiangsu, according to statistics from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
But at least 100 companies are currently advertising their overseas labour services, according to local media.
Unexpected disasters and issues including political turmoil, also threaten the lives of those overseas workers, Xia added.
He said the new regulations will focus on strengthening control on the overseas labour service market and regulating procedures that deal with overseas labour emergencies.
"To crackdown on unqualified labour agencies and prevent those labour disputes and emergencies from happening is our foremost goal. We don't want to let them happen again and again. Otherwise, it is useless to keep solving it each time," said Xia.
According to Xia, his bureau will co-operate with related public security, industrial and commercial administration, social security and foreign affairs bureaux to combat problems together.
Xia revealed that the new regulations would follow the guideline that once the workers are involved in overseas labour disputes, those agencies that have signed the contracts with them should be responsible for helping them.
Registered employment groups have given their support to the plans.
"Although I don't yet know the details, I hope it will bring order and security to the overseas labour service market," said a worker surnamed Zhou, from Jiangsu International Economic-Technical Cooperation Corp, the largest overseas labour service company in the province.
"It brings a responsibility to both companies and those overseas workers."
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show 100,280 Jiangsu residents worked in foreign countries in 2005, the largest number compared with those of other provinces.
They worked in about 140 countries scattered mainly in Asia, Africa, and some developed European and North American countries, according to Jiangsu Statistics Bureau.
According to Xia, more Jiangsu residents are joining labour-intensive sectors, including service and construction areas, while professionals are taking jobs as engineers and teachers. The pay is generally much higher than at home.
(China Daily February 21, 2006)