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Ministry warns on large-scale corporate downsizing in quake zone
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Labor departments in quake zones must be alert to attempts at large-scale corporate downsizing in the wake of last month's disaster, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) said on Monday. The labor contract law defines "large-scale" staff cuts as those involving more than 20 employees or 10 percent of a company's labor force.

In cases where such cuts are necessary, firms must report to local governments before making them, a document released on the ministry's website (mohrss.gov.cn) said.

The top priority is to eliminate "zero employment" families in quake zones, it said.

Also, unemployment insurance must be paid promptly and in full to those who lose their jobs, while survivors with significant financial difficulties should be incorporated into the urban minimum allowance scheme, the document said.

The ministry's announcement is the latest in a series of efforts to protect workers and employers in areas hit by the earthquake.

Last month, the human resources and finance ministries vowed to extend employment aid to all those who lost their jobs because of the quake. As well as providing favorable employment policies for workers and subsidies for the companies that hire them, the aid also includes the creation of new jobs for migrant workers, public welfare positions and local reconstruction projects.

Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin said earlier the ministry will "instruct and encourage all regions, especially the more economically developed ones, to advertise their job openings in quake-ravaged areas, as well as initiate labor flow activities" from disaster zones to provinces unaffected by the quake.

Zhang Zheng, a professor at Peking University, said government-run job fairs and State-provided work opportunities, preferably in coastal provinces, would help people from the mountainous areas of Wenchuan and Beichuan, who are used to looking for work outside their hometowns.

(China Daily June 25, 2008)

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