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China amends draft new labor law amid outcry over forced labor scandal
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14:38, June 29, 2007

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The draft labor contract law, which is likely to be adopted by China's national legislature whenit ends its weeklong session on Friday, has been revised to punishgovernment officials for abuse of office and dereliction of duty.

Officials abusing their authority or neglecting their responsibilities, resulting in harm to the interests of workers, will face administrative penalties or criminal prosecution if the actions are serious enough, according to the revised draft.

Lawmakers lambasted officials involved in the forced labor scandal in north Shanxi Province during their fourth deliberation on the draft, which resulted in the revision, said Yang Jingyu, chairman of the Law Committee, on Thursday.

The officials' actions directly harmed the legal rights of workers and caused social disquiet, so the labor contract law, which aimed to protect workers, should contain provisions to tackle the problem, according to members of the NPC Standing Committee.

The Law Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) has suggested to put the draft to a vote.

The forced labor scandal in Shanxi made headlines around the world this month, sparking outrage among the Chinese public and arousing concern from national leaders. The workers were forced towork long hours without pay in brick kilns, mines and other small industries.

The lawmakers suggested the top legislature ratify the labor contract law as soon as possible to ensure workers have legal rights.

Source: Xinhua

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