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Workers Seek Changes in Labor Contracts
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China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), has received more than 190,000 suggestions since it released the draft of the labor contract law to the public on March 21.


The suggestions focus on the widely existing problems of the current labor contract system, such as unequal pay for equal work and employers' reluctance to buy social insurance for employees.


Workers submitted their problems to the legislature, hoping their views could be fully considered in the legislative process of the labor contract law.


Li Yuan, director of the Administrative Law Department under the Legislative Affairs Committee of the NPC Standing Committee, said since China's labor supply exceeded demand, employers, without worries about a supply of labor, often sign short-term contracts, which are always a few months long, with employees, so that some employees, afraid of unemployment, dare not ask for reasonable salaries and social insurance.


Therefore, some workers suggested the contract should be valid for at least one or two years to better protect laborers' interests. Some suggested increasing the cost for employers to sack employees in a bid to avoid unfair dismissal.


On the question of "equal pay for equal work," some workers wrote that many migrant laborers worked twice as long as urban workers, but earned one fifth to one third amount of the salaries of the urban workers and did not enjoy any social welfare.


Currently in China, a large number of employers avoid buying pension, medical and unemployment insurance for employees. Some laborers suggested setting up supervisory government organizations.


China initiated the labor contract system in the early 1990's, in which many workers ensure salaries and welfare through contracts.


Previously, most Chinese workers enjoyed the "cradle to grave" welfare system.


(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2006)

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