1,340 saved from forced labor

By Hu Yinan (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-14 07:15

A total of 1,340 people, 367 of whom were mentally handicapped, have been rescued from forced labor since the brick kiln scandal was exposed in June, a joint investigation group said yesterday.

During a campaign to crack down on illegal kilns, mines and workshops, 277,000 work units employing 12.67 million workers were inspected, Sun Baoshu, vice-minister of Labor and Social Security and head of the investigation group, said.

The group was made up of staff from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Ministry of Public Security and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

Police found that 67,000, or 24.2 percent of kilns, mines and workshops inspected nationwide were operating without licenses.

They registered 185,000 cases, more than half concerned employing workers without contracts and, in 37 percent of the cases, the owner failed to provide workers with social security insurance.

A total of 147 people were arrested and 98,000 working units were ordered to sign contracts with 1.5 million workers and pay overdue salaries and compensation totaling 130 million yuan ($17 million).

The use of forced laborers hit the headlines after more than 400 parents in central China's Henan Province posted an online plea for help in rescuing their children who had been kidnapped to work in small brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan.

An employee of a brick kiln in Shanxi has been sentenced to death for manslaughter and unlawful detention, the foreman was sentenced to life imprisonment and boss of the kiln was given a jail term of nine years. A total of 95 Party officials in Shanxi have been punished.

The publication of the labor investigation report coincides with the opening of the International Labour Organization (ILO)'s Asian Employment Forum aimed at promoting decent work.

The forum in Beijing is the first major gathering of senior government, labor and employer representatives from 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific since the launch of the Decent Work Decade at the ILO's Asian regional meeting last year.

Initially proposed by ILO director-general Juan Somavia in 1999, decent work "refers to sustainable work opportunities for women and men in conditions of freedom, equality, security and human dignity".

Xinhua contributed to the story

(China Daily 08/14/2007 page3)

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