LAC Raised its Concerns on China's Labour Rights Through 2 Joint Submissions to the United Nations

Together with four other labour rights civil society organisations, Labour Action China (LAC) submitted a joint Universal Periodic Review (UPR) contribution to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March and a parallel report concerning China’s implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in April. These reports focused on following issues, namely occupational health and safety, hukousystem, crackdown on labour NGOs, abuse of student interns and minimum wages.
Hukou (registration of household) system is a key factor which frustrates the direct and indirect enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. The average monthly income of a migrant worker is 2049 RMB, just 30% of the average wage of their urban counterparts. Obviously, migrant workers’ right to decent work lacks efficient safeguard.
Living on a minimum wage means a handsome number of workers could not afford their healthcare, as well as recreational, educational and cultural activities when these services are deemed to be basic and necessary for a city living.  Not only the enshrined right to have a decent living for workers themselves and their families could not be attained, but the rights to physical and mental health and to “rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay” are also compromised and frustrated.  15 million children of migrant workers live with their parents in urban areas.  Their right to education is restricted because they are ineligible to enter public school.
As the restriction of hukou system, migrant workers are ineligible to enjoy the same amount of protection compared to urban workers though they have been working in urban regions for a very long period of time.  Migrant workers are difficult to enjoy social insurance benefits due to the restrictions of social insurance system, for instance, non-transferable regional based system.
As Ms Suki Chung, LAC’s executive director, said on CNN’s On China**, “[migrant workers are] living and working in the city … Actually, they don’t see themselves as migrant workers.  This is a very important change for them to, how they see themselves and that’s why they demand more for getting the local benefits, getting more recognition, social recognition from the government”. 
Many Chinese workers realise that they are making some changes on the ground, which is a huge force to facilitate different social changes in a positive way.  Multi-national enterprises also have a role to play.  “But after all, it’s about how the Chinese government and the Chinese workers interact to make a better society”, as Ms Chung concluded.
You can obtain our joint parallel report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from here..
** On China is a programme of the CNN.  The episode on “Migrant Worker” was first broadcast on Wednesday, 20 March 2013.