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Global corporations opposing new Chinese labour law strengthening worker’s rights

7 December 2006

Public and media discussion often focuses on the role of the Chinese government in suppressing workers struggles and in not enforcing existing labour laws. Yet, multinationals play a significant role, too. Despite claims that they are raising human and labour rights standards abroad, which in many cases is used as a justification to operate in countries such as China, they often do the opposite.

A good example is the emerging difference between China and American and other foreign corporations over proposed labour legislation. China is planning to adopt a new labour law aimed at improving worker’s rights and labour conditions. Yet, US-based global corporations like Wal-Mart, Google, UPS, Microsoft, Nike, AT&T, and Intel, acting through US business organisations like the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the US-China Business Council, are actively lobbying against the new legislation. They have expressed concern that the new rules would revive « some aspects of socialism » and borrow too heavily from « labour laws in union-friendly countries » like France and German.

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