Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What's New in China

Migrant Workers Allowed to Sue Employers with IOU
China’s Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that migrant workers who didn’t receive due salaries could claim the payment at a court with the IOU (I owe you) bill issued to them by their employers, Xinhua reported.

Prior to this announcement, Chinese courts did not accept lawsuit merely based on such a document. Instead, migrant workers were referred to arbitration, which took longer time and had weaker enforcement and many times yield no results. It has been a long-existing and rampant problem that many employers often grant an IOU note instead of cash to migrant workers on pay day. From time to time, unpaid migrant workers got so desperate that they staged suicide threat in public places or street demonstration trying to get their money.

Walmart in Beijing Established its First Labor Union
The world retail giant saw one of its stores in China’s capital establish its first labor union on Tuesday, with more than 70 participating employees. Beijing government’s official website said that so far there are three Walmart stores in Beijing, with more than 1460 employees.

Since landing in China a decade ago, Walmart has been one of few foreign companies in China that does not and perhaps would not have labor union, until very recently. In July, a Walmart store in Fujian Province established the retail chain’s very first labor union in China.

High Profile Legislator Denounced Direct Election of Local Officials
Mr. Sheng Huaren, vice chairman of the standing committee of National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s national legislation body, said it is against the law to allow people cast votes directly to elect their township chiefs, Xinhua reported. Several places explored such election in previous years, in an attempt to expand local democracy.

So far, Chinese citizens, particularly rural residents, only have the opportunity to vote for village leaders directly. Other government officials, from township chief all the way up to the president, are chosen by local or national people’s congress. Chinese citizens aging 18 or older have the right to elect people’s congress representatives at basic levels, and most of the time, people don’t really know who they are voting for because candidates rarely campaign.

----by Josie Liu

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