Battle against workplace bias 'tough'

By Zhong Dandan (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-15 07:03

Farmers, the physically challenged and people with infectious diseases are the three groups of people who face the most discrimination in China, indicates a survey released in Beijing yesterday.

The study was conducted by the Constitutional Research Institute (CRI) of the Chinese University of Politics and Law and polled 3,500 people in 10 big cities, CRI Director Cai Dingjian said.

About 65 percent of the people said the physically challenged were discriminated against, and about 45 percent thought farmers-turned-workers in cities were subjected to the same treatment. Nearly 63 percent of those polled said HIV/AIDS patients faced bias, and almost 55 percent believed people infected hepatitis B suffered the same fate.

"Among companies recruiting employees, 21 percent clearly have a gender requirement" Cai said at a press conference hosted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), which released a global report on workplace discrimination across the globe last week.

The survey shows about 85 percent of those polled think discrimination in workplaces does exist and more than 50 percent consider it to be very serious, especially in the civil services, Cai said.

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As the world's most populous country, China still has a long way to go in creating a work environment that treats everyone equally, said Liu Xu, director of the international department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. "Discrimination based on the place of a person's birth, gender, height, appearance, marital status, education and experience are obvious."

Jiang Guangping, of the All-China Federation of Trade Union, said his organization is committed to helping laid-off workers, protecting the legal rights of farmers-turned-laborers, promoting equal treatment for the physically challenged and striving for the goal of gender equality.

The ILO's report on labor discrimination presents a global picture of job-related discrimination, director of the ILO Office for China and Mongolia Constance Thomas said, citing progress and failures both in the fight against discrimination from the traditional kind of gender, race and religion to the new ones that are based on age, sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS and physical disability.

China Enterprise Confederation Deputy Director Li Mingxing said the report could help China understand how to work with foreign countries to eliminate work-related discrimination.

"The fight against discrimination at workplace is a global task," he said. It's very important for our country to promote structural re-adjustment and institutional innovation to build a harmonious society.

(China Daily 05/15/2007 page2)

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