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News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Supports USTR Decision on Section 301 Petition Regarding China

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today expressed support for the decision by the United States Trade Representative not to accept a petition filed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 regarding workers' rights in the People's Republic of China. Deputy Secretary Steven J. Law noted significant cooperation between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China on a number of worker protection issues over the last few years, and pledged to continue to work together to build on the progress that has been made.

"Over the past two years, the Labor Department has worked with the People's Republic of China to strengthen several strategic areas of worker protection: employment standards, migrant workers, pensions, and health and safety — especially mine safety," said Deputy Secretary of Labor Steven J. Law. "What we need is not more reports, but continued engagement by the government of the People's Republic of China on these issues, with active assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor and other agencies."

In June 2004, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and four DOL assistant secretaries visited the People's Republic of China. Four letters of understanding (LOUs) were signed by the DOL assistant secretaries with the host government, covering bilateral cooperation through June 2007 in wage and hour administration, private pension oversight, occupational safety and health, and mine safety and health.

As a follow up to signing the LOUs, the two countries have exchanged delegations of professional experts, best practices and information.

In addition, DOL programs have provided technical assistance to the government of the People's Republic of China to:

  • revise laws to strengthen worker protections, including labor contract law, dispute resolution law and a social security law;
  • strengthen the enforcement of labor laws and inspection systems, which contributed to the new regulations passed by the People's Republic of China in December 2004; and
  • strengthen the training provided to labor inspectors.

DOL projects have also assisted the People's Republic of China in reducing worker fatalities and injuries. At coal mines participating in a $2.3 million DOL coal mine safety project, the number of injuries per 1,000 miners decreased from 7.7 in 2003 to 2.56 in 2004. In the first half of 2005, that number was further reduced to 1.86. The number of deaths per 100 miners decreased from 0.15 in 2003 to 0.01 in 2004 and to 0.004 in the first half of 2005. Also, among migrant workers in a DOL rule of law project, the percentage of workers able to identify three or more workplace rights increased to 96 percent in the first quarter of 2006 from 23 percent in 2005. During the same period, 99 percent were able to identify at least one place to go for legal assistance, up from 12 percent in 2005.

Read the fact sheet.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
July 21, 2006