China will launch a nationwide crackdown on illegal labor practices from July to August, focusing on small brick kilns, coal mines, and workshops, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security said on Wednesday.
The two-month crackdown comes as the issue of forced labor at brick kilns in northern Shanxi Province shocked the country.
Investigations into slavery and forced labor will be another focus of the campaign.
Necessary medical care and compensation should be given to the rescued slave laborers, the notice said, noting that any government officials involved in forced labor scandals would be punished severely.
A total of 359 people, including 12 children, have been rescued from illegal brick kilns in Shanxi Province, the joint investigation group announced last Friday.
Liu Jinguo, vice minister of Public Security, said at the meeting that the ministry will further investigate into forced labor by checking the registrations of migrant workers in small brick kilns, coal mines, and workshops in the countryside.
"More efforts will be made to crack down on illegal labor agencies and foremen to curb the use of forced labor," Liu said, adding that the ministry will post a phone number and e-mail address to receive illegal labor information.
By June 18, Chinese police have detained 168 people accused of holding workers in slavery under appalling conditions at small brick kilns and mines in Shanxi and central Henan provinces.
The use of slave workers hit the headlines after a "call-for-help" letter was posted on the Web earlier this month by more than 400 parents in Henan who believed their missing children had been sold to the small brick kilns as slave workers.
(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2007)