Draft law aims to ease labor tension

By He Dan and Li Wenfang (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-06 08:01
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GUANGZHOU - The Guangdong provincial legislature is drafting a new regulation to help ease tense labor relations in the booming province, which has seen a number of industrial strikes in recent months.

The draft - Democratic Management Rules of Enterprises - stipulates the use of "collective negotiation mechanism" to resolve labor disputes.

The regulation states the mechanism should start if over 25 percent of all workers in a company request a pay hike, under which circumstances the trade union in the company should organize all staff for a democratic election of negotiators to represent the workers.

The collective negotiation mechanism will create more opportunities for trade unions to protect workers' rights, said Yu Chuntao, head of the labor relation section of the Guangdong provincial department of human resources and social security.

He, however, added the draft regulations should be more detailed to ensure effective implementation.

"What are the do's and don'ts in negotiations and what's the alternative if collective negotiation fails? Many such questions need to be addressed," Yu told China Daily on Thursday.

"In this draft regulation, the concept collective negotiation is only limited to payment," noted Di Yujuan, head of the institute of labor and social security law at the Shenzhen University. "But workplace safety, employment policies and welfare are also important aspects in labor relations."

An item in the draft regulation that reads, "Workers should not resort to suspending work or other extreme behaviors to ask for pay raises before or during the procedure of negotiation", has sparked a debate.

Many are worried that this rule implies a ban on striking.

"The rule doesn't mean workers are not allowed to stop work. But they should express rational and reasonable requests first, and try to resolve the conflicts with their employers via the channel of law," Kong Xianghong, who helped draft the regulation, was quoted as saying in the Guangzhou Daily on Wednesday.

The draft also clarifies that the All China Federation of Trade Union above the level of township is entitled to ask companies to rectify flaws in their management and even condemn them publicly if they fail to comply.

"Naming and shaming, to some degree, will put pressure on the enterprises as it would have an effect on their reputation. However, we should still try to realize justice for both sides via legislation," said Di.

China Daily

(China Daily 08/06/2010 page5)