Labour & Disability Rights

Chinese labour arbitration is non-binding, and in-company conciliation and mediation is often weak. Changes to the labour dispute resolution system have been a concern for the Chinese Party-state for many years, and in 2007 they passed new Labour and Labour Dispute Resolution Laws. China has also introduced a series of legal reforms to protect the rights of people with disabilities, such as the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons (enacted in 1991 and amended in 2008) which addresses a number of issues such as education, employment, and access to welfare. However, there are as many as 85 million people in China living with disabilities, and the large majority of these people continue to suffer from employment discrimination, social stigma and poverty.

GBCC has enjoyed a constructive relationship with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and in the past we have worked on social security legislation research and drafts with regional labour arbitration committees, running large projects conducting research, training Chinese arbitrators and supporting the pilot of a new labour dispute resolution court in Shenzhen. We have also contributed to reforms and education which advance the protection of disability rights within China. Whilst GBCC is not currently working in these area, listed below are summaries of some of our past projects on labour and disability rights:

Workshop on the Rule of Law and Disability Rights

Disability Rights Project Group Work

In July 2013 GBCC organised a workshop on the rule of law and disability rights, which took place in Beijing as part of an EU-funded collaborative project with the University of Nottingham and the Chinese Association for NGOs (CANGO). The focus of this three-day workshop was the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Over 80 delegates, including representatives from many of China’s leading Disabled People’s Organisations discussed topics such as human rights law, independent living, employment, non-discrimination, effective campaigning and advocacy strategies with counterparts from the EU. These topics were discussed with reference to the concluding observations on the initial UN Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities China report, published in September 2012.

Human Rights in the Chinese Textile Industry

From 2012 to 2013, the Great Britain-China Centre operated a project devoted to raising awareness and implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, known as the "Ruggie Principles", in the Chinese textiles industry. Field research was undertaken in six pilot factories across Guangdong and Hubei to identify baseline awareness of the Ruggie Principles and obstacles to implementation. On the basis of this research, an advisory draft of a ‘Factory non-Judicial Grievance Procedure’ was produced and subsequently endorsed by the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC). This draft is now available as a framework for any factory looking to establish grievance mechanisms, and CNTAC adopted policy and legislation recommendations that grievance mechanisms should be required of all organisations.

These activities were further supplemented by a media campaign to raise awareness of the Ruggie Principles, translations of key documents, publications and seminars to reach out to Chinese NGOs and other business areas. The project was highly successful in raising awareness of the importance of grievance mechanisms and promoting wider adherence to the Ruggie Principles within China. This project was supported by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Reforming the Labour Dispute Resolution Law

In 2006-7 GBCC worked with a research team at Renmin University in Beijing and other labour experts to develop recommendations for the Legal Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress on the Labour Dispute Resolution Law in advance of the promulgation of the new law in 2007.

Developing a Labour Arbitration Court System in China

The initial focus of this project was on identifying UK training models to assist the development of Chinese pilot arbitration courts. Having completed a technical study at the start of 2005, the project conducted study visits to UK and EU institutions for senior officials and train-the-trainers training courses for key staff from more than ten provinces across China. The “Shenzhen model” has now spread to six other provinces in China, been made a national model by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and is currently the subject of much discussion among Chinese labour experts. This project was funded by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office “Global Opportunities Fund”.