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Regs to Protect Jiangsu Residents Abroad
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Regulations to protect Chinese workers abroad from east China's Jiangsu Province are to be issued and implemented by the end of this year, according to the provincial Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation.

Bureau official Xia Wangsheng said the new rules are currently under draft, and suggestions from related bureaus and social sectors are being collected.

"As Jiangsu has sent a large number of workers to foreign countries in recent years, the number of labor disputes and emergencies involving people from here is relatively higher compared with other provinces. Therefore, to issue such an emergency and response regulation is very necessary," said Xia.

According to Xia, illegal overseas labor service agencies and unexpected disasters are the two main causes for overseas labor disputes and emergencies.

"Unlike those authorized overseas labor agencies, those illegal ones take people's money, get people to foreign countries and then disappear. The welfare and security of those migrant workers are not efficiently protected," said Xia.

There are only 13 authorized overseas employment service companies in Jiangsu, according to statistics from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

But at least 100 companies are currently advertising their overseas labor services, according to local media.

Unexpected disasters and issues including political turmoil, also threaten the lives of those overseas workers, Xia added.

He said the new regulations will focus on strengthening control on the overseas labor service market and regulating procedures that deal with overseas labor emergencies.

"To crackdown on unqualified labor agencies and prevent those labor disputes and emergencies from happening is our foremost goal. We don't want to let them happen again and again. Otherwise, it is useless to keep solving it each time," said Xia.

According to Xia, his bureau will co-operate with related public security, industrial and commercial administration, social security and foreign affairs bureaus to combat problems together.

Xia revealed that the new regulations would follow the guideline that once the workers are involved in overseas labor disputes, those agencies that have signed the contracts with them should be responsible for helping them.

Registered employment groups have given their support to the plans.

"Although I don't yet know the details, I hope it will bring order and security to the overseas labor service market," said a worker surnamed Zhou, from Jiangsu International Economic-Technical Co-operation Corp, the largest overseas labor service company in the province.

"It brings a responsibility to both companies and those overseas workers."

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show 100,280 Jiangsu residents worked in foreign countries in 2005, the largest number compared with those of other provinces.

They worked in about 140 countries scattered mainly in Asia, Africa, and some developed European and north American countries, according to Jiangsu Statistics Bureau.

According to Xia, more Jiangsu residents are joining labor-intensive sectors, including service and construction areas, while professionals are taking jobs as engineers and teachers. The pay is generally much higher than at home.

(China Daily February 21, 2006)

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