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Shanxi Scandal Gives Urgency to Draft Labor Contract Law
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Chinese lawmakers on Sunday deplored the forced labor scandal uncovered in north Shanxi Province and recommended that the top legislature urgently ratify the labor contract law and thus better ensure the legal rights of employees.


Fan Duixiang, deputy director of the Standing Committee of Shanxi Provincial People's Congress, revealed the true extent of the investigation which found that 2,036 of the 3,347 brick kilns had been devoid of any legal licenses and collectively employed 53,036 illegal workers.


Zheng Gongcheng, member of the NPC Standing Committee, stated that this scandal had emphasized the needs for stronger protection of employees' legal rights.


NPC Standing Committee member Li Lianning pointed out that items of the draft labor contract law, if adopted, could be applied to illegal labor cases such as the one in Shanxi.


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


NPC sources revealed that the bill is thought likely to be adopted at the end of the current 28th session of the NPC Standing Committee.


The forced labor scandal in Shanxi grabbed the attention of the nation in early June, sparking public outrage and grave concern among the upper echelons. The workers were treated as slaves, forced to work long hours without payment in brickyards, mines and other small works.


Shanxi provincial governor Yu Youjun has formally apologized over the forced labor scandal, promising to use his full power to root out any more cases of such illegal practices.


(Xinhua News Agency June 25, 2007)

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