Saturday, June 30, 2007

New China Labor Law

China enacts new labor law to quell unrest. Here's the basics of the law
The law, enacted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress over the objections of foreign investors, requires employers to provide written contracts to their workers, restricts the use of temporary laborers and helps give more employees long-term job security.

The law, which is to take effect in 2008, also enhances the role of the Communist Party’s monopoly union and allows collective bargaining for wages and benefits.
Notice who is fighting against workers rights in china? Is it the evil gerontocracy, the old party bureaucrats behind the Tiananmen massacre? Nope, its the big multinationals, including no doubt, the people who make all your cheap plastic crap. Their motivation is the same as it always is, and the threat they lorded over the CCP is the same.
Companies argued that the rules would substantially increase labor costs and reduce flexibility, and some foreign businesses warned that they would have little choice but to move their operations out of China if the provisions were enacted.
I really hate the term "flexible labor force." Fortunately, the NYT gives us a sense of what this term really means.
Passage of the measure came shortly after officials and the state news media unearthed the widespread use of slave labor in as many as 8,000 brick kilns and small coal mines in Shanxi and Henan Provinces. It was one of the most glaring labor scandals since China began adopting market-style economic policies a quarter century ago.

The police have freed nearly 600 workers, many of them teenagers, held against their will in factories owned or operated by well-connected businesspeople and local officials.
As the article points out, the new law won't do any good unless it is enforced. China has lots of good laws on the books about the environment and labor, but no one pays any attention to them. Also, none of this is a substitute for the ability to form independent unions. Right now the only union allowed in China is run by the communist party, and it refuses to engage in any collective bargaining, doesn't allow strikes, and doesn't help individual workers with grievances.

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