Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Labor Contract Law and lay-offs

As the implementation of the recently-passed Labor Contract Law nears, companies are firing older workers before management is forced to take on workers who have worked for at least 10 years continuously (or have signed fixed-term contracts twice) as permanent employees.

A July 15 issue of the Guangdong paper "Yangcheng Evening News" has a report by Wang Xiaoyun entitled "'The Labor Contract Law' Made Me Lose My Bowl of Food." It tells the story of 50 year old worker Hua Yi, who was employed at a plant since 1996---until recently, when she was told there wasn't enough work for her. New workers, though, were hired in Hua's place.

Another worker, A Yu, put in 21 years at a factory only to be informed that her work was unsatisfactory and fired. She was left to rely on her husband's 600 RMB per month salary to take care of aging parents and a daughter not yet four years old.

If enterprises' worries are a sign that the law may be better enforced than previous regulations, then these firings, while painful, should give some bitter hope to the Pearl River Delta's proletariat.

But managers and workers both know that much depends on how the national law is translated into local law, that things are still in flux. We can only wait until the beginning of 2008. But the wait will be rough.


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