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Social Security Gets Revamp

Labour and social security departments are getting a facelift under a Memorandum of Understanding signed Thursday in Beijing. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security will draw on international exchanges and foreign experience in reforming the department's work, together with the International Labour Office (ILO), Minister Zhang Zuoji said.

The signing of the memorandum marked a new phase in the relationship between China and the ILO, which will help China fully co-operate with the organization in all areas of labour and social security, Zhang said.

The ILO was set up in 1919 and its purpose is to maintain world peace and stability through the eradication of poverty, protection of the interests of labourers and promotion of social justice.

Its work falls into three main categories: designing international legislation for workers, including conventions and suggestions; assisting in technological co-operation; and carrying out research into labour and the distribution of information.

After more than 20 years' implementation of reforms and opening-up, the living standards of the Chinese people have been greatly improved and workers' rights and interests better protected, Zhang said.

"China's achievements in the fight against poverty and deprivation are historic and widely recognized," said Director-General of the ILO Juan Somavia, who attended the signing ceremony.

"The signing of the memorandum is only the beginning. We need to work out strategies and policies for its implementation and we need to mobilize resources," Zhang said.

China has ratified some important ILO conventions, including the Equal Remuneration Convention - which recommends equal pay for men and women - and the Minimum Age Convention, which suggests a minimum age for working, he said.

"I am happy to note that collaboration between China and the ILO on labour standards is progressing well," Somavia said. "ILO standards are increasingly recognized in China as useful benchmarks for making national labour legislation."

Somavia and his delegation arrived in Beijing on Wednesday. They will also visit Xi'an in Northwest China and Shanghai.

(China Daily 05/18/2001)

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