The country's top trade union body yesterday ordered a nationwide campaign on
labor use as police arrested more suspects accused of using forced laborers in
The All-China Federation of Trade Unions said it requires grassroot trade
unions across the country to immediately carry out a thorough examination to
stop the violation of migrant workers' rights.
trade unions at all levels to unearth the hidden problems and cooperate with the
government in cracking down on offenders.
"The All-China Federation of Trade Unions was extremely shocked and indignant
on hearing of the slave worker case," Zhang Mingqi, a senior official with the
"We can never tolerate such a thing happening in our socialist country."
The announcement of the campaign follows media reports of hundreds of slave
laborers being used in small brick klins and mines in Shanxi and Henan
Five suspects have been arrested for illegally holding and deliberately
injuring laborers in a North China brick kiln and forcing them to do highly
intensive manual labor, the Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.
They are kiln boss Wang Bingbing, foreman Heng Tinghan, and hatchet men Zhao
Yanbing, Heng Mingyang and Liu Dongsheng. The five have confessed to the
charges, local police said.
Police are searching for a further three suspects, namely Zhou Xueping, Chen
Zhiming and Jin Xingjian.
Zhang said the campaign would target industries that employ large numbers of
migrant workers, such as manufacturing, construction, mining and restaurants.
the trade unions had failed to play a significant enough role in rural areas,
which have produced more than 200 million migrant workers.
"Although cases of slavery like the one at the brick kiln in Hongtong county
are extremely rare, we have found from our investigations that migrant workers
in most small brick kilns, coal mines and smelteries have to endure poor and
even harsh conditions regarding pay, safety and hygiene," Zhang said.
"There is still a long way to go to protect workers' rights."
He said the federation would strengthen its work in rural areas in the future
to keep pace with the rapid urbanization.
The federation said it wanted to recruit more than 10 million rural migrant
workers as trade union members this year.
At the end of last year, 41 million migrant workers had joined a trade union.
The International Labor Organization in Beijing said it welcomed the
government's condemnation of illegal and dangerous workplaces and encourages
further investigation, rescue and fair compensation.