July 2006-August 2007

Effective protection of workers and their legally mandated rights ultimately rests on the rigorous implementation of laws and regulations by officials and inspectors. Much of China’s labor rule enforcement apparatus was designed to work within the realm of state-owned enterprises; thus, government officials and inspectors are often ill prepared to deal with new issues that have emerged in the rapidly changing Chinese workplace. There is, therefore, a strong need to develop training programs intended to update and upgrade the enforcement capabilities of labor officials and inspectors.

Labor inspection has a relatively short history in China. The country adopted its Labor Law only in 1994, and the Regulations on Labor and Social Security Inspection as recently as November 2004. Training of labor inspectors has not been systematic and has relied heavily on outdated methods. Existing training manuals tend to not be user-friendly and are often nothing more than compilations of laws and rules, description of procedures and sample forms. (The United States, in contrast, has 70-plus years of experience developing a labor investigation regime and training labor investigators.) Developing a training curriculum for labor inspectors is thus one of the areas where China could truly benefit from close Sino-American collaboration.

After months of work, an interactive “case-based” curriculum was developed. The final version of the training manual runs over 300 pages in the English version and 266 pages in the Chinese version. It includes 26 modules covering such topics as inspection protocols, pre-inspection research, employer and employee interview techniques, record reviews, and case management. Eight scripted role-play videos were produced prior to the training, seven in Flash format, and one in live-action DVD format. Directions for further six role-play exercises were developed for groups of trainee volunteers during the training.

A pilot demonstration of the training was conducted July 30-August 10, 2007 in Beijing in two consecutive sessions. Each session lasted four days and was preceded by a full-day preparatory meeting of the three American and four Chinese trainers. Fifty-nine labor inspectors from 22 provinces and four provincial-level municipalities participated in the pilot trainings. As they are expected to become future trainers, the participants were carefully selected based on their inspection experience (a minimum of two years) and training responsibilities.

U.S.-China Labor Law Cooperation Project

U.S.-China Labor Law Cooperation Project

In 2002, a consortium that included the National Committee, The Asia Foundation, and Worldwide Strategies, Inc. was awarded a multi-year contract by the U.S. Department of Labor to run a set of programs to improve Chinese labor laws. The overall goals were to help strengthen the Chinese government's capacity to develop laws and regulations to implement internationally recognized standards of workers' rights, to promote greater awareness of labor law among Chinese workers and employers, to strengthen industrial relations, and to improve legal aid services to women and migrant workers. The National Committee's mandate was to work on legislative and labor inspection issues.

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