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Gov't Targets Illegal Use of Labor
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The government of south China's Guangdong Province, which is home to the greatest number of companies and migrant workers of any province in the country, has launched a two-month campaign against the illegal use of labor.

Conducted jointly by eight departments, including those for labor, work safety, public security and health, and the provincial federation of trade unions, the campaign will target small workshops, brick kilns and mines, it said at a press conference on Tuesday.

As part of a national campaign, it will scrutinize sites for possible abducted migrant workers, child labor, restrictions of personal freedom, forced labor and intentional injury.

Yang Shaosen, deputy secretary-general of the provincial government, pledged an "iron fist" approach against crimes found in the campaign and encouraged everyone to report illegal practices to the labor authorities or via the labor hotline.

At the end of last year, Guangdong had 841,000 registered companies, according to the provincial industry and commerce administration. At the same time, it was also home to some 18 million migrant workers, or roughly one-third of the nation's total, the provincial labor department, said.

The illegal use of labor is not uncommon in the province.

In March, for example, a brick factory in the city of Huizhou was found guilty of using unlawful means to recruit workers, underpaying its employees and doling out physical punishments. It was ordered to suspend its operation until such malpractices were eliminated.

Also, the construction of a new provincial museum was suspended in November after it was discovered that, among other things, workers on the site had no contracts with their employer.

In June, labor authorities in Guangdong launched a two-month campaign against child labor and forced migrant labor.

The illegal use of labor has been at the forefront of people's attention since the exposure last month of the slave labor scandal at several brick kilns in north China's Shanxi Province.

Meanwhile, according to the newly adopted labor contract law, officials will face administrative penalties or criminal prosecution for abusing their authority or neglecting their responsibilities that results in serious harm to the interests of workers.

(China Daily July 6, 2007)

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