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33 officials sacked in wake of China's forced labor scandal
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15:58, July 16, 2007

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Thirty-three officials have been sacked of their Party or government posts while 62 others given disciplinary warnings for failing to prevent the forced labor scandal in the brick kilns of north China's Shanxi Province last month.

The provincial disciplinary commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) handed out the penalties on Monday, accusing the officials of dereliction of duty in their supervision and administration of the kilns.

Commission secretary Yang Senlin said the officials included 18 county level staff.

Three CPC officials were expelled by the party, three others have their CPC membership suspended. Still seven others were removed from their party posts, Yang said at a press conference in Taiyuan, the provincial capital.

Twenty-eight CPC members received serious warnings, and five others received warnings.

Twenty-six officials lost their government jobs, 19 others received demotion. Twenty-nine received reprimand.

The use of forced laborers hit the headlines after more than 400 parents in central China's Henan Province posted a help letter on the Internet last month, saying their missing children had been sold to small brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan as forced laborers.

By June 22, 359 people, including 12 children, had been rescued from illegal brick kilns in Shanxi and police had arrested 38 people. Police in Henan rescued 217 people, including 29 children, and arrested 120 people in a four-day crackdown, in which more than 35,000 police checked 7,500 kilns.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislature, on June 29 adopted the Labor Contract Law following the exposure of the practice in order to help protect workers' rights by making written contracts obligatory.

Under the new law, if employers fail to sign written contracts with their employees within a year after employees begin working, then they are considered to have signed a permanent labor contract.

"Employers should not force employees to work overtime and employees can terminate the contract without fulfilling the notice period if they are forced to work by violence, threat or restriction of personal freedoms," the law reads.

The law will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

So far, more than 30 kiln bosses and employees have gone on trial in connection with the forced labor scandal. They face charges such as forcing people to work in unspeakable conditions and intentionally injuring other people.

Source: Xinhua

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