Empowering the People

According to China Labor Watch, a New York-based not-for-profit that defends workers' rights in China, labor law violations in Chinese factories are rampant. Its recent study of eight China-based toy factories sheds light on the types and prevalence of these abuses.

For example the organization cited widespread compulsory overtime with employees working up to 14 hours a day for illegally low wages. All the investigated companies neglected to abide by employment contract provisions and most don't provide basic medical or work injury insurance.

"The case of multinational toy companies shows that corporate codes of conduct and checklist auditing are not enough by themselves to strengthen workers' rights if corporations are unwilling to pay the real price it costs to produce a product according to the standards in their codes," the CLW wrote in its report.

Contract Crackdown
Now with employees acting as enforcement agents, every company will be open to increased action. And no other area of the new law is likely to cause more litigation than the changes to regulations governing China's labor contracts.

In the past many employers hired workers without entering into a contract with them. This was a violation of the law, though it wasn't strictly enforced. The new law rectifies this by mandating that an employer contract with an employee within one month after the employee's start date. If the employer fails to do so, the employee can claim double salary for months worked without a contract for up to 12 months' salary.

Technology Editor

Keith Ecker

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