V. Strengthening the Protection of the Legitimate Rights and Interests of Workers
V. Strengthening the Protection of the Legitimate Rights and Interests of Workers
It has been the Chinese government's consistent development con-cept to respect people's right to work, stress the protection of workers' rights and interests, realize the dignity of labor and promote people's all-round development. The Chinese government has adopted a series of policies and measures to strengthen the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of workers, and is effectively promoting the sound development of human resources.
Guaranteeing equal employment
In recent years, the Chinese government has endeavored to strengthen the building and management of a unified and standard market of human resources, overcome the divide between urban and rural areas, between people of different identities and between differ-ent regions — which is caused by historical factors, eliminate institu-tional obstacles to the development of the human resources market, and establish an equal employment system for urban and rural workers. By improving market supervision, carrying out examination of law enforcement in the human resources market, and cleaning up and rectifying illegal acts in the market, the relevant departments of the Chinese government has effectively protected the lawful rights and interests of all market elements, including job seekers.
The state makes every effort to ensure that women have equal rights to employment with men, and endeavors to remove barriers to women's equal employment. The country mobilizes various non-governmental sectors to expand the employment channels for women, and formulates and implements policies supporting women's self-employment. The positive role of women's federations at all levels is brought into full play in making known to authorities women's demands, in promoting equal employment and equal pay for equal work, and in providing rights protection services. By 2008 women workers accounted for more than 45.4% of the working population nationwide.
The Chinese government is formulating an overall plan for the em-ployment of the disabled and has adopted the principle of combining centralized and decentralized employment, so as to guarantee the right to employment for the disabled. It formulates and implements policies favorable for the disabled people's employment, stipulating that every employer must hire at least one and a half persons with disabilities out of every 100 employees working in the company. Any employer with one quarter of its employees being persons of disabilities will enjoy tax preference. The government also gives advice to and helps the disabled to establish welfare enterprises of persons of disabilities, and encour-ages and supports them to explore flexible ways of employment. The China Disabled Persons' Federation at all levels protects the legitimate rights and interests of disabled persons and promotes their equal par-ticipation in social life. A total of 3,043 employment service agencies have been set up at the provincial, municipal and county levels to pro-vide special employment services for the disabled. By the end of 2009 the number of disabled employees in urban areas nationwide had reached 4.434 million, and 17.57 million disabled persons in the rural areas had found stable jobs.
The state pays great attention to the protection of rural migrant workers' rights and interests. Rural migrant workers are a special group of workers that has emerged in the process of China's reform and opening-up, industrialization and urbanization. They have made great contributions to the economic and social development of the country. In 2006 the State Council established the Joint Conference System to coordinate and guide the work on rural migrant workers across the country. China has eliminated many unreasonable restric-tions on rural migrant workers' seeking jobs in cities, strengthened work safety and public health training, expanded social insurance to cover more migrant workers, established a retirement pension scheme, which ensures continuity of one's retirement insurance wherever he or she lives, and carried out such supporting programs as "Spring Warmth Action" and "Spring Breeze Action." By the end of 2009 a total of 80.1482 million rural migrant workers had become members of trade unions, almost 80% of the migrant workers' children were receiving free compulsory education at public schools in urban areas, and the number of migrant workers covered by insurance for work-related injuries, medical insurance, basic retirement insurance for employees of enterprises in urban areas and unemployment insurance had reached 55.87 million, 43.35 million, 26.47 million and 16.43 million, respectively.
Establishing a coordination mechanism for labor relations
China promotes the all-round implementation of the labor contract system. By the end of 2009, some 96.5% of China's state-owned en-terprises and enterprises of other ownership with annual sales revenue over five million yuan had signed labor contracts with their employees. The contents of labor contracts had become more standardized, and most of the labor contracts were being properly observed. China ac-tively promotes group consultations and the group contract system, so as to enhance mutual understanding and trust between employers and employees, and seek mutual benefits for both parties to the labor con-tracts. By the end of 2009, the number of effective group contracts had reached 703,000, covering more than 94 million employees.
China brings into full play the function of the tripartite labor rela-tions coordination mechanism. In 2009 a total of 14,000 tripartite labor relations coordination organizations had been established in cities above the prefecture level and counties (including county-level cities and districts) of 26 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), which comprised government, trade union and enterprise representatives. Centering on major issues of labor relations, the tripartite mechanism plays an important role in promoting harmonious and stable labor relations through active com-munication, enhanced cooperation and elimination of differences.
China is vigorously promoting the building of harmonious labor relations. In 2006 the government began the campaign to establish harmonious labor relations in enterprises and industrial parks. By for-mulating and implementing standards of harmonious labor relations, promoting the establishment of a coordination mechanism for labor relations and commending successful examples, China promoted har-monious and stable labor relations in enterprises and industrial parks. By the end of 2009, a total of 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government had engaged in building harmonious labor relations.
China gives full play to the important role of trade unions. China's trade unions, which represent and safeguard workers' interests, play an important and irreplaceable role in promoting harmonious labor rela-tions. In 2009 there were 1.845 million trade unions at the grassroots level, covering 3.959 million enterprises and public institutions, and the number of trade union members nationwide had reached 226.3 mil-lion. Trade unions at various levels work actively to safeguard the rights of the workers, provide guidance and help for workers in signing labor contracts with employers according to law, represent workers in group consultations and signing group contracts with employers, or-ganize workers' participation in democratic decision making, man-agement and supervision, take part in labor dispute mediation and arbitration, provide legal services to workers and urge employers to abide by state laws and regulations.
China is showing more care for enterprise employees. In recent years, the Chinese government has adopted active measures to deal with the misconduct of some enterprises in labor employment, urged them to give more care to the well-being of workers, improve their employees' working and living conditions, improve the mechanism for workers to voice their demands, establish platforms for workers to communicate with and help each other, and provide psychological and health consultation services for employees. Meanwhile, China properly guides public opinion with a view to creating a favorable social at-mosphere conducive to the building of harmonious labor relations.
Settling labor disputes fairly and promptly
Settling labor disputes through mediation and arbitration is a reme-dial system with Chinese characteristics for safeguarding legitimate rights and interests of employees. To guarantee fairness and transpar-ency in dealing with labor dispute cases, arbitration commissions are composed of three parties, namely, the representatives of appropriate departments of the government, trade unions and employers. By the end of 2009, China had 33,000 arbitrators in some 4,800 arbitration organizations.
The method of mediation and arbitration in settling labor disputes adheres to the principle of fairness, encourages parties in dispute to settle their disputes properly through consultations and mediation, and protects the legitimate rights and interests of parties concerned. In 2009 labor dispute arbitration organizations at various levels nation-wide handled 875,000 cases. Some 684,000 cases were accepted for arbitration, a decrease of 1.3% compared to the previous year. The cases involved 1.017 million workers, a decrease of 16.3% compared to the previous year. According to Chinese law, parties that disagree with labor dispute arbitration award may institute proceedings to the people's courts. In 2009 people's courts at various levels completed 317,000 labor dispute cases, and successfully protected the legitimate rights and interests of the parties in dispute.
Enhancing labor security supervision
Law enforcement as regards labor security supervision is an im-portant way to protect the legitimate rights and interests of workers. Labor security supervision organizations are mainly responsible for publicizing laws and regulations concerning labor security, accepting and handling workers' complaints and reports, and supervising em-ployers' observance of the relevant laws. By the end of 2009, China had established 3,291 labor security supervision organizations staffed by a total of 23,000 supervisors.
In recent years, China's labor security supervision organizations have launched campaigns to investigate breaches of laws and regula-tions related to labor security, and strengthened supervision on and timely handled major law-breach cases with serious social impacts. The supervision of law enforcement protects workers' rights in career introduction, labor contract signing, working hours, salary payment, social insurance and special labor protection. In 2009 China's labor security supervision organizations inspected 1.751 million employers, involving 90.298 million workers; they examined and dealt with 439,000 cases of violation of labor security laws, and ordered employ-ers who failed to sign labor contracts with their employees to sign la-bor contracts with 10.737 million employees.
Since the beginning of 2009 the Chinese government has launched pilot projects of online labor security supervision and management in 60 cities so as to carry out comprehensive and dynamic supervision of employers for labor dispute prevention and timely intervention. Now, with the pilot projects working well, the new method will soon be ap-plied nationwide.