Nation to create more jobs for disabled
China's 25 million disabled job seekers had cause for celebration yesterday on the National Day of the Disabled as Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said the country would "redouble its efforts" in creating a better work environment for them.
The theme of this year's day, which falls on the third Sunday of May every year, was "promoting employment for the disabled."
Of the country's disabled job seekers, 1 million live in urban areas with Beijing home to over half of their number, according to the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF).
The employment rate of the disabled in Beijing, who are of working age and capable of employment, is around 85 per cent.
By the end of 2008, the municipal government expects this figure to rise to 87 per cent.
In his remarks, Hui urged local governments and all circles of society to keep improving the employment environment of the handicapped and safeguard their labour rights.
"Employment is fundamental to livelihoods and an effective way and important basis for improving disabled people's life, social status and helping them participate in social and economic undertakings," he was quoted by Xinhua as saying yesterday.
Although many disabled people have jobs, their general employment situation remains grave and they are facing increasing pressure and difficulty in finding a job, he said.
Jin Yi, president of Beijing Runsheng Foods Co Ltd and physically impaired himself, said the disabled should make their own efforts to create better lives.
"Despite the physical incon-veniences, the old idea of relying on society's assistance rather than tapping their own potential has prevented some from getting jobs," said Jin.
Although fluent in English, Jin was turned down for tertiary education after graduating from high school. But he managed to teach himself college courses and opened his own business 10 years ago.
State legislators are considering drafting a regulation on employment for the handicapped, which is expected to include the collection and use of employment insurance.
Early this year, Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report delivered on March 5 at the opening of the parliament's annual session: "We will show our concern for the disabled and support programmes that benefit them."
As early as 2003, CDPF Chairman Deng Pufang said at the Fourth Congress of the CDPF that people should not forget that there were 60 million people with disabilities in the country, and they have over 200 million family members.
He said the Chinese Government was working hard to help the coun-try's handicapped population achieve a goal of "equality, participation and sharing" and enjoy as affluent a life as others.
Over the past year, more than 600 of Beijing's disabled citizens have received legal assistance.
In one of the more landmark cases, Chen Xiang, a 17-year-old girl who was knocked down on her newspaper route in 2003 and subsequently handicapped, was compensated by the newspaper-delivery company even though she had signed no workplace injury insurance contract with her employer.
The driver of the vehicle that hit her refused to pay further medical fees after shelling out 13,000 yuan (US$1,600) even after a local court in the city ruled that he must. The ruling was not enforced due to the driver's poor financial condition.
The family of four, which gets by on Chen's father's monthly salary of 2,000 yuan (US$240) had to borrow 30,000 yuan (US$3,600) for Chen's treatment.
The father eventually turned to the Legal Assistance Centre of Beijing Xicheng District for help in January this year.
"The only way he could help his girl in a legal way was to force the newspaper delivery company to pay for workplace-injury insurance," Peng Xinggang, the centre's director, said.
But since Chen had not signed anything on taking the job, this proved difficult.
After negotiation, the company agreed to compensate Chen 7,000 yuan (US$850).
"I am grateful for the result although the money could not cover all of our debts," Chen's father said.
(China Daily 05/16/2005 page2)