With China increasingly setting wages and working conditions for workers the world over, the ripple effects from changes in Chinese labor law are likely to be felt in each of our home countries. So head's up: new Chinese labor legislation is in the works.
The latest draft law concerns labor dispute mediation and arbitration. Since Chinese workers lack the right to strike, arbitration has been one of the few institutional ways for workers to address grievances with their employers. But the current system is failing, triggering an increasing number of worker protests and social unrest.
The new draft was submitted to the National People’s Congress for its first reading on August 26, 2007. It comes on the heels of the Labour Contract Law passed last August, which extended an array of basic rights for Chinese workers—including protections for temp workers, just-cause firing provisions, etc.
The arbitration law is designed to address a number of government concerns. According to the China Daily, PRC figures reveal that “labor dispute cases in China are continuously increasing in recent years. Statistics show that labor dispute arbitration organizations at various levels dealt with 1.72 million labor dispute cases involving 5.32 million employees from 1987 to the end of 2005, with a growth rate of 27.3 percent annually.”