Labor Disputes in China May Increase With End of WTO Arrangement on Textile and Clothing Trade

March 16, 2005

Labor disputes in China will increase along with problems associated with an expected 100 percent increase in apparel production, according to Jenny Wai-Ling Chan of the Chinese Working Women’s Network in a report in the March 15 CSR Asia Weekly. Industry leaders, government officials, and private analysts alike expect garment and textile production in China to surge as a result of the December 2004 end of the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing.

The 1993 and 1995 PRC Labor Law and associated regulations gave workers the right to file complaints over wages, fringe benefits, and health and safety violations, and between 1993 and 2002 the number of labor arbitration disputes rose from 12,368 to 184,116 per year. Ms. Chan points out, however, that many worker protests are outside of the arbitration process, such as a 3,000- worker protest in Dongguan over wages and poor food and a 3,000-worker strike in Shenzhen.