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No revision to labor contract law amid financial crisis
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China will not revise the Labor Contract Law to compromise workers' rights as suggested by some people to help enterprises cope with the global financial turmoil, a legislator said Monday.

"The labor contract law has nothing to do with the financial crisis and won't be revised for it," said Xin Chunying, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislative body.

"China's labor relations are basically stable and orderly, and it can weather through the test of time," she told a press conference on the sidelines of NPC's annual session, when asked if the law will be changed because increased labor costs have led to rising cases of bankruptcy on the Pearl River Delta.

Citing a survey that tracts figures in the first nine months of the 2008, she said the law has indeed driven up enterprises' labor costs by two percent, but it has also greatly curbed labor relations issues that have been afflicting workers as well as employers for years.

Such chronical issues include the tendency of employers avoid signing long-term contracts with employees, the lack of proper protection of workers' rights, said Xin.

The proportion of workers protected by a written labor contracts in "sizable enterprises" has witnessed a remarkable rise since the labor contract law took effect in January 2008, she said.

"Sizable enterprises" is a statistical term in China that refers to all state enterprises or private firms with an annual turnover of two million yuan if they are manufacturers, or five million yuan if they are in trade.

According to Xinhua, 93 percent of the workers in "sizable enterprises" have signed contracts with their employers, compared to less than 20 percent before the enaction of the new law.

Li Shouzhen, a senior official with the All China Federation of Trade Unions, said at the same press conference that the federation is against the lifting of the minimum wage standard.

The minimum wage standard was a major measure to safeguard workers' rights. "Abolishing the standard will hurt employee's initiative and confidence in tiding over difficulties with enterprises," he said.

"Eying long-term development, the employers should strive to pool wisdom and strength of the employee and optimize company structure," he said.

"Don't have your eyes on the employee's salary alone," he said.

The minimum wage standard in the country varies from city to city, with the southern Shenzhen city reporting the highest standard of 1,000 yuan a month.

(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2009)

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