China, UN labour agency launch new partnership to improve workers' rights

18 May 2001

The Government of China and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have entered into a new partnership to strengthen Chinese policies for employment, social dialogue and social protection, in line with internationally recognized workers' rights, the United Nations agency announced today.

In China on his first official visit as Director-General of the ILO, Juan Somavia told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that he greatly valued the "open and constructive discussions" that led to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to launch a programme of cooperation. "We look forward to a qualitatively new level of discourse and engagement between the ILO and China," Mr. Somavia said.

According to the ILO chief, China's achievements in the fight against poverty and deprivation are "historic and widely recognized," including recent action to set up a national structure of law and social policy. New types of labour management relations are being explored, and the foundations are being laid for the development of collective bargaining.

The Memorandum targets many key problems of reform and adjustment faced by China today, including the need for an evolving structure of law for the world of work and the establishment of industrial relations systems and dispute settlement mechanisms which can ensure orderly and stable change.

The programme needs to be supported through national action in a variety of areas, including awareness raising, legislative action, appropriate policies and institution building, Mr. Somavia said.

He stressed that the programme would involve partnerships within China as well as with the UN system, the Bretton Woods organizations and other financial institutions. "It is our hope that such partnerships will lead - not merely to a mobilization of resources - but to a sharing of international experience for mutual benefit, both for China and for the international community," Mr. Somavia said.


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