Revised Law to Better Help Workers

China will make mammoth changes to its decades-old Trade Union Law to further safeguard workers' rights by enhancing the role of trade unions.

Participants of the 24th session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, discussed the draft amendment to the Trade Union Law on Wednesday in Beijing.

Protecting the rights of workers is the fundamental responsibility of trade unions, says the draft law, on which preliminary deliberation was conducted at the previous NPC Standing Committee meetings.

The law also stipulates that trade unions, through equal consultation and the signing of a collective contract, should co-ordinate labour relations and defend workers' legal rights.

"Ordinary workers welcome the above provisions very much," said Lu Bangzheng, an NPC Standing Committee member from Yunnan Province.

Lawmakers argued about the role of trade unions when dealing with conflicting interests between workers and enterprises.

If operations are stopped or suspended, the trade union should, on behalf of workers, consult with the enterprises, public institutions or organs to satisfy workers' rational requirements and to restore production as soon as possible, the draft amendment states.

Some lawmakers suggested the trade unions also play a role in persuading and directing workers to help continue production.

Experts said the current Trade Union Law, which is applied to trade unions only in State-owned or collective enterprises, should be geared to the changing social and economic situations.

The draft amendment thus stipulates that, in spite of nationality, race, gender, occupation, religion and education, every manual or mental labourer in China's enterprises, public institutions and organs has the right to attend trade unions.

No organization or individual can impede or limit any worker's participation.

Besides State-owned and collective enterprises, the number of private and foreign companies will increase greatly after China enters the World Trade Organization, said lawmaker Tong Zhiguang.

"The draft amendment should make clear that the workers in these companies have the right to organize and attend trade unions," Tong said.

Tong also said attention should be paid to some private or self-owned enterprises in which workers are suffering from tremendous infringement of the labour law and trade union law.

The draft amendment also stipulates that legal liabilities should be pursued against people or organizations that have violated the rights of trade unions.

And due punishment should be given to those who disturb workers attending the trade unions.

People's Daily Online ---