An international seminar, co-hosted by ACFTU and ILO, was held in Zaozhuang City, Shandong province on 20-21 November, 2014. Devoted to the theme Labor Disputes & Role of Trade Unions, the seminar sought to develop a sound mechanism for settling labor disputes and enhance the role of trade unions.
Mr. Guo Jun, National Secretary of ACFTU, and Ms. Guan Jinghe, Deputy Director of ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia, addressed the opening ceremony. They noted that with the reform and opening up of China, industrial relations have taken on a new dimension and that labor dispute mediation mechanisms have played an important role in securing workers’ rights and maintaining social stability.
Mr. Guo Jun pointed out that the 4th plenary session of 18th National Congress of CPC Central Committee in China highly upholds the principle of "governing the country in accordance with the law". In such a context, the Chinese trade unions should rely on legal means to handle labor disputes, draw on ILO experiences and further improve the country’s legal system.
Ms. Guan Jinghe elaborated on the definitions of disputes over rights and interest, two approaches to addressing the two types of disputes as well as relevant ILO standards. ILO calls for communication, negotiation and cooperation at enterprise, sectoral and national levels, especially information disclosure in enterprises.
She emphasized that efforts must be made to establish and implement an effective grievance procedure at enterprises, support workers to make use of relevant procedures without fear of revenge. In addition, effective public institutions such as courts, labor tribunals, specialized mediation and arbitration bodies should be set up to properly handle disputes that fail to be settled by corporate mechanisms and measures. Emphasis should be put on mediation before a case goes to court.
An official from Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said that since the Law on Mediation and Arbitration of Labor Disputes went into force, China has introduced set of supporting laws and regulations on labor disputes mediation and arbitration and relevant working mechanisms. An analysis of labor disputes revealed that most were over wages, social insurance and contracts. To improve the situation, China needs to shift its focus to mediation at grassroots level, especially non-public enterprises, and give full play to the role of social mediation bodies.