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Chinese government says labour disputes doubled in 2008
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security announced on 8 May that the number of cases accepted by China’s labour dispute arbitration committees last year increased by 98 percent compared with 2007 to stand at 693,000, and involved 1.2 million workers in total.
There were 22,000 collective cases accepted by the arbitration committees in the same period, a 71 percent increase over 2007. Collective cases on average involved 23 workers and accounted for 41 percent of all the workers involved in labour disputes, Vice-Minister Yang Zhiming told a conference to mark the first anniversary of the implementation of the Labour Arbitration Law, on 1 May 2008.
The figures mirrored almost exactly the increase in the number of labour related lawsuits announced by the Supreme People’s Court on 3 March. Labour related lawsuits increased by 95 percent compared with 2007, the largest increase for all types of lawsuit.
The doubling of both arbitration cases and labour related lawsuits reflects the sharp increase in factory closures and wage defaults last year, together with workers increased awareness of their rights and confidence in China’s institutions of public redress.
China Labour Bulletin has been running a labour rights litigation project in mainland China since 2003. And in 2008, CLB and its partner organizations adopted close to 600 new labour rights cases, involving more than a thousand worker plaintiffs and concluded about 430 cases. The worker plaintiffs won in more than 95 percent of the concluded cases, obtaining compensation for work-related injury, recovering unpaid wages, getting job reinstatement, or obtained other benefits such as labour insurance payouts. In total, the workers obtained 10.3 million yuan in compensation and other benefits.