A top unionist yesterday pledged to use the law to prevent migrant workers from losing their jobs amid the global financial crisis.
"We will use all labor-related laws to help migrant workers keep their jobs in this difficult time," Zhang Mingqi, vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions said on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC) session.
"Even if the workers are laid off, we will ensure they get the compensation due to them in time," he added.
Factory closures in the coastal regions, mainly because of the slump in China's foreign trade, have forced employers to lay off about 20 million migrant workers, Zhang said.
In some cities, like Dongguan, Guangdong province, however, many employers whose businesses failed have fled to evade paying compensation to their employees, he said.
"We urge governments at all levels to set up an emergency response system to prevent such incidents from happening again," said Zhang.
He said his federation will help jobless migrant workers across the country to find "decent work" again.
In another development, a senior legislator has said China will "strengthen enforcement of labor laws" to protect workers' rights.
Xin Chunying, the deputy director of the legislative affairs commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said the Labor Contract Law will not be amended because of the current global economic downturn.
"The crisis has nothing to do with the law. We won't amend the law because of the downturn," she told a press conference of the ongoing NPC session yesterday.
Xin said the reason for the rising unemployment in the country was the crisis, not the law, adding that many export-oriented firms had shut down due to extreme losses triggered by the weakening economy.
Xin said: "There will not be a substantial cost increase for companies that have strictly followed the Labor Law passed in 1994.
"All the principles in the Labor Contract Law have actually been included in the Labor Law. The new law just details the provisions to facilitate implementation."
Xin said the new law has "played a positive role in maintaining stable labor relations" amid the economic downturn and has helped improve workers' social welfare.
"Our labor relations basically remain stable and in order, which shows the law has stood the tests of reality and time," she said.
In September and October last year, the NPC Standing Committee sent inspectors to six provinces to check if the labor law was being implemented.
The investigations revealed that as of September, about 93 percent of the employees in companies with a turnover of more than 5 million yuan ($732,000) had signed labor contracts, up 2.3 percent year-on-year.
In the first half of the year, enterprises also signed 1.09 million collective labor contracts with trade unions, covering 143 million workers, both up 12 percent over the same period last year, according to the report.