Unions' role in Social Security

By Mr. Zou Zhen,
Director General of Social Security Department, ACFTU

The social security work, as an indispensable priority of the Chinese trade unions, aims to safeguard workers’ legitimate rights to employment, income distribution and social security, and to enable workers to share the fruits of social and economic development. Our endeavor in recent years includes the following aspects.

1. Carry out in-depth investigations and research, actively participate in the national law-making process for protecting workers’ rights.

In recent years, the Chinese trade unions have participated in the drafting, formulation and amendments of laws and regulations such as Labor Contract Law, Employment Promotion Law, Social Insurance Law, Occupational Injury Insurance Law, Provision on Unemployment Insurance, Opinions on the Deepening of Medical and Health System Reform and Measures on the Urban Employees’ Coherent Pension Insurance Scheme. Through these efforts, we strive to reflect workers’ requirements and demands on relevant national laws, regulations and policies in a bid to protecting workers’ economic and labor rights.

2. Secure workers’ labor rights by facilitating employment and re-employment.

In order to boost employment, on one hand, the Chinese trade unions urge the government to formulate and implement proactive employment policies, on the other, we fully tap the role of unions to strengthen skill training, provide guidance for business start-ups and improve employment services through unions job centers, occupational training agencies and re-employment bases. Over the past five years, 17.999 million workers have received vocational training and employment assistance provided by unions at various levels.

3. Uphold workers’ right to fair income distribution through the development of income distribution system.

In this regard, the Chinese trade unions have been fully engaged in the following four aspects. Firstly, promote and participate in the formulation of National Master Plan on the Income Distribution Reform, Provision on Wage at Enterprise Level for the building of full-fledged income distribution system and a distribution rule that is fair and just. Secondly, urge various provinces and localities to adjust and increase minimum wage standards. Over the past two years, with the joint efforts of local unions, most provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government have adjusted the local minimum wage level in a row with annual growth rate of over 20%. As of August 2013, 24 provinces and localities have again raised the minimum wage standard with the average increase of 17.6%. Thirdly, trial work on strengthening labor quota setting and management has launched in some sectors, laying a solid foundation for continuously improving the quality and level of collective wage bargaining. Fourthly, conduct specialized inspections for migrant workers’ wage payment to address the wage defaulting issue.

4. Ensure workers’ access to social security by tightening inspection and supervision.

Over the years, with the focus on improving the coverage and level of social insurance, the Chinese unions at various levels have been engaged in law enforcement inspections in collaboration with people’s congress, people’s political consultative conference, and through tripartite consultative conference, workers’ congresses as well as labor inspectors.

In addition, we take the initiative to encourage local unions, where conditions permit, to set up workers’ mutual assistance medical insurance and annuities, adding another safety net for workers.

5. Ease workers concerns by providing assistance to workers in difficulties.

So far, there has been 3,504 above-county level help centers nationwide set up by unions, 170,000 plus help stations by grassroots unions, forming a universal network. Over the past 21 years, the Chinese trade unions have regularly held the Warmth Sending Campaigns during China’s New Year’s Eve and the Spring Festival, and have raised in total 48.1 billion Warmth Fund, visited 1.81 million difficult enterprises and provided help to 112,95 million needy workers’ families.

Despite of the progress so far, ACFTU still needs to do more to better meet workers’ demands. Endeavor must be made to provide well-targeted and efficient skill trainings, explore more effective means to raise workers’ income and narrow the income distribution gap, and extend the union help network to cover workers in difficulties, especially migrant workers.

  Source: ACFTU  2014-06-17

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