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Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang

China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-18 07:51

IV. Labor Rights Protection

The Chinese government is committed to respecting citizens' right to work, safeguarding their legitimate labor rights and interests, and ensuring them a decent job. Strictly following the above principles as embodied in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and relevant national laws, including the Labor Law, Labor Contract Law, Employment Promotion Law, Social Insurance Law, Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, and Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, Xinjiang has formulated and implemented a series of autonomous regional regulations based on local conditions, including measures for implementing the national Employment Promotion Law, Regulations on Labor and Social Security Supervision, Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, and Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the Regulations of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the Protection of Labor Rights and Interests. These laws and regulations provide a solid legal guarantee for citizens in Xinjiang to enjoy equal rights to work.

Guaranteeing workers' equal right to employment. In accordance with the principle of equal protection of civil rights, Xinjiang ensures that there is no discrimination against workers on the basis of ethnicity, region, gender, and religious belief, and that no individuals' rights are restricted because of their urban or rural status, profession or position. In ensuring women's rights, Xinjiang strives to remove barriers to employment and formulates policies to support women in starting their own businesses. In 2019, 480,900 new jobs were created in cities and towns; 228,100 of these were for women, accounting for 47 percent of the total. To protect the labor rights of persons with disabilities, Xinjiang puts in more efforts on their vocational training, promotes their employment at public welfare enterprises and institutions, offers them flexible and less demanding jobs and public service positions, and advances their proportional employment. It also supports them in finding work through self-employment, starting new businesses or other flexible ways of employment. By the end of 2019,183,700 of them were employed-almost 60 percent of the total workforce of persons with disabilities in Xinjiang.

Guaranteeing workers' right to remuneration. Xinjiang fully applies the country's policy requirements on establishing a dynamic salary growth mechanism for enterprise employees, and improves the salary guidance systems for enterprises and for the labor market respectively. Each year from 2014 to 2019, it released a salary growth guideline for enterprises. It established and improved the minimum salary adjustment mechanism, raising the minimum salary by almost 20 percent from RMB1,520 per month in 2013 to RMB1,820 per month in 2018, which was at a high level in the country. Xinjiang has issued the Regulations of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Collective Salary Negotiation of Enterprises and other regulations to promote and steadily expand the coverage of collective salary negotiation. The local government has also improved the system for guaranteeing salary payments. It punishes illegal and criminal acts of withholding labor remuneration, and thus ensures that workers receive their salaries in full and on time.

Guaranteeing workers' right to rest and leisure and to occupational safety. Xinjiang strictly applies relevant state regulations and adopts the system of the eighthour workday and 40-hour workweek. If an employer wishes to extend working hours for operational reasons, it must consult with the trade union and the employees in accordance with the law, and arrange for compensation in the form of additional time off or remuneration. Workers are guaranteed the right to time off on weekends and statutory holidays including the Spring Festival, Roza Festival (Eid al-Fitr) and Corban Festival (Eid al-Adha). Xinjiang also strictly applies the national occupational safety and health regulations and standards, consistently improves the responsibility system for workplace safety and occupational disease prevention, and carries out inspections over occupational health law enforcement. As a result, the autonomous region has succeeded in preventing or reducing to a minimum all kinds of workplace safety incidents, and established fundamental control over or eliminated occupational disease hazards.

Guaranteeing workers' right to participate in social insurance. Xinjiang has fully implemented the national plan to ensure that everyone has access to social security and all those in need are covered. Workers in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and key groups including migrant workers, the self-employed, and people engaged in new forms of business are encouraged to participate in social insurance. By the end of 2019, more than 22 million people were participating in basic pension, unemployment, and work-related injury insurance. Labor and social security supervision bodies at all levels continue to step up law enforcement, address reports and complaints about violations of relevant laws, regulations, and rules in a timely manner, and investigate and correct in accordance with the law illegal acts where employers fail to register for or contribute to social insurance, resolutely safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of workers.

Guaranteeing workers' freedom of religious belief and the right to use their own spoken and written languages. Xinjiang strictly applies the Constitution and relevant national laws and regulations, including the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, the Law on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language, and the Regulations on Religious Affairs. The local government fully respects and guarantees the right of workers of all ethnic groups to freedom of religious belief, and ensures that no organization or individual interferes with this freedom. While promoting standard spoken and written Chinese in accordance with the law, Xinjiang fully respects and protects the rights of ethnic minority workers to use their own spoken and written languages, and ensures that workers can choose which languages to use for communication. The customs of workers of all ethnic groups are fully respected and guaranteed and efforts are made to create a good working and living environment for them. Tokhali Turhanbay from Wuqia (Ulughchat)County, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, now works in a shoe factory in Guangdong Province. He belongs to an ethnic minority and is a religious believer who follows halal diet. Before going to work at the factory, he was concerned that he would have difficulty maintaining his eating practices, and that there would be no place to worship. But when he arrived, he found that the living environment in the factory was comfortable, and the halal food was excellent. He also found that it was convenient to go shopping and video chat with his family during his spare time, and he was able to attend religious activities at a nearby mosque. Therefore, he quickly adapted to the new environment.

Protecting workers' rights and interests and strengthening the relief mechanism. Xinjiang fully implements the labor contract system, which clarifies the rights and obligations of employers and workers. The autonomous region keeps improving the tripartite mechanism of consultation among representatives of the government, trade unions, and business organizations, investigates and solves major problems involving labor relations, and seeks to build harmony in the workplace. Xinjiang also encourages trade unions to play an active role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of workers. It reinforces labor and social security supervision as well as mediation and arbitration of labor disputes, and handles labor disputes in a timely and appropriate manner. It has taken targeted actions to rectify major violations of labor laws and regulations, and carried out special supervision over the handling of major cases. As a result it is able to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of workers concerning job intermediation, labor contracts, working hours, time off and leave, salary payment, social insurance, and special labor protection.

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