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Legislators Consider 'Special Protection' for Women Workers
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China's legislators are considering special protection for women workers in the draft labor contract law.


The bill, currently in its third reading with the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislative body, has triggered national debate on protecting workers' interests.


"I suggest adding items of special protection for female workers into the draft law, because women make up a relatively large proportion of the work force, but they face unavoidable issues like maternity," said Zhao Di, a member of the NPC Standing Committee.


NPC Standing Committee members agreed special protection for women was "an indispensable part" of collective contracts and should be included in the labor contract law, but the details of the protection were not discussed.


About 50.2 percent of female migrant workers have no labor contracts, compared with 40.2 percent of men, according to a survey on the rights of rural female workers conducted by the All-China Women's Federation.


The survey showed about 21 percent of rural women in cities were fired after they became pregnant or had a child. A growing number of working women delayed giving birth to children fearing their maternity leave would result in the loss of promotions or even jobs.


Zhao suggested that employers take responsibility for preventing sexual harassment in working areas, and this ought to be supervised by labor administrations.


"Sexual harassment can not be ignored when women's rights are discussed," Zhao said, describing it as a "social and even international issue".


Zhao said the law on women's rights protection failed to specify the responsibilities of employers in sexual harassment cases, and this should be clarified in the labor contract law.


The draft law, aimed at establishing "stable and harmonious" relations between employers and employees, is one of the top items on the NPC agenda. If enacted, it will be the country's first specific law governing labor contracts


(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2007)

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