For over a decade, ILRF has partnered with universities, civil society organizations, and legal practitioners in China to address the country’s need for skilled labor law practitioners to support workers’ legal claims in an emerging rule of law society.
Together with our partners, ILRF has trained over 350 judges, arbitrators, lawyers, and employees of government legal aid centers and the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). Additionally, ILRF is supporting three labor law clinics in China. These clinics educate labor law students, provide access to legal remedies for migrant workers, and improve the legal and policy environment for labor law reform. Across two years, the labor law clinics have handled at least 400 labor law cases in mediation and arbitration and have provided legal counsel to at least 8,000 migrant workers. Labor law clinics also provide basic labour law education and rights protection education to migrant workers, and the one location currently provides free legal counsel to upwards of 6,400 migrant workers every year.
While Chinese law schools have been our primary partners in this effort, the ILRF has also worked with provincial and local level branches of the ACFTU and the Ministry of Justice’s legal aid centers. ILRF sponsored trainings have been held in Anhui, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Content has focused on difficult legal problems commonly faced by migrant workers, and target both regions that send and those that receive migrant labor.
ILRF has also supported community-centred courses aimed at raising Chinese workers’ legal rights awareness. These classes have been held in neighborhood settings and have included labor law, health and safety and job skills training. During the course of these trainings, many workers have applied the knowledge they have gained through their training to their daily lives, resolving workplace disputes through legal channels and winning compensation owed them for work injuries, unpaid wages, illegal dismissal, or other labor disputes.
As of September 2013, three of ILRF’s university partners committed to participating actively in the Professional Committee of Labor Law Education. This organization is for Chinese labor law educators invested in “practical” education for students and also has the aim of improving the environment of labor law which protects worker rights.
The 3rd National Conference on Labor Law Clinic Education was held in Law School of Nanjing University on September 21, 2013. Experts of labor law around China attended in this conference, including Associate Professor Changzheng Zhou, Associate Professor Xiumei Huang from Law School of Nanjing University, Professor Jingyi Ye from Law School of Peking University, Professor Quanxing Wang from Law School of Shanghai University of Finance & Economics, Binfeng Guan who used to serve as associate counsel of Law Department of All China Federation of Trade Unions, Director Chao Gu from Labor Relationship Division of Jiangsu Human Resource & Social Security Bureau, Partner Junlu Jiang from King & Wood Mallesons and Lawyer Guangyu Zeng from Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Research Center of Labor.
This conference was held to announce the establishment of the Professional Committee of Labor Law Clinic Education, and to discuss relevant issues around China regarding such education. The conference included following sections: the set-up and improvement of legal clinic, the promotion of legal aid and the case discussions regarding collective labor disputes. Lastly, experts assessed the clinic education and discussed next moves after the establishment of this committee.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing on "Working Conditions and Factory Auditing in the Chinese Toy Industry" on Thursday, December 11, 2014, featured testimony by Brian Campbell, ILRF Director of Policy and Legal Programs. The vast majority of toys bought and sold in the United States are made in China. In November, the labor rights NGO, China Labor Watch, issued a report alleging poor working conditions at four Chinese factories that manufacture toys for several major toy companies and retailers. This hearing examined these allegations, what the toy industry is doing to audit factories in China and address reports of poor working conditions, and the effectiveness of private-sector auditing and business codes of conduct in China. To watch the webcast of the hearing, click here.