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Enforce New Labor Law
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Strict enforcement of laws and regulations is vital to protect the rights and interests of workers, says a signed article in Yanzhao Metropolis Daily. An excerpt follows:

It is important to make laws protecting workers' rights and interests. But legislation is only the first step. Without enforcement, even the best laws cannot help. The people's congress should carry out their right to supervise law enforcement. It is their duty and also a public expectation.

After receiving over 190,000 public submissions in the past year, the second draft of the labor contract law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for review last Sunday. The draft has many new stipulations to protect workers' rights and interests, including that workers can apply to court to claim defaulted payments; public institutions must also sign labor contracts with employees; and companies that lay off more than 20 employees at one time have to inform the trade union or staff 30 days in advance.

The legislation gives support to laborers from the institutional layer. But whether the law works to protect their rights and interests also depends on its enforcement.

Let us look at the draft law.

It rules that companies that lay off more than 20 employees at one time have to inform the trade union or staff 30 days in advance. In many places, however, trade unions are affiliated to the capital. Survival of the trade unions could be threatened if they fight management.

And it is even harder for employees to express their opinions those who go against employers may be fired.

Also, not many migrant workers have labor insurance as required under the Labor Law. Some local governments just stand with the capital and turn a blind eye to unlawful behavior. If the Labor Law was strictly enforced, quite a number of enterprises would be fined and punished.

We do not lack institutions to protect workers, but the emphasis lies in enforcement.

When the capital is in a strong position and protectionism goes rampant, laws and regulations can hardly be fully implemented.

We admit that legislation is great progress. But enforcement is another, more important thing.

(China Daily December 29, 2006)

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