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Working Conditions and Worker Rights in China: Recent Developments

Representative Christopher Smith and Senator Sherrod Brown of the
Congressional-Executive Commission on China announce a hearing.

July 31, 2012 2:30pm to 4:00pm

In recent months, several reports have been released regarding working conditions in Chinese factories that manufacture products popular in the United States—laptops, iPhones, iPads, cordless phones. These reports document excessive overtime, crowded and unsafe working and living conditions, underage workers, and unpaid wages. They note that Chinese workers do not have the right to organize into independent unions, and that the state-controlled union does little to represent them. Meanwhile, China has enacted laws in recent years intended to address worker issues, and the state-controlled union has pledged to better represent workers.

The hearing's witnesses will discuss the prevalence of harsh working conditions in Chinese factories in places like Shenzhen and Shanghai, assess implementation of China's labor laws, and examine the roles the Chinese government, China's state-controlled union, Chinese NGOs, and private companies, including multinationals, play in addressing worker rights and labor reforms. Witnesses will also provide recommendations for U.S. policy on worker rights in China.

For related Commission analysis, please see "NGOs Report Harsh Conditions at Chinese Factories Making Popular Electronics."

This hearing will be webcast.


Panel I:

Charles Kernaghan, Executive Director, Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

Li Qiang, Executive Director and Founder, China Labor Watch

Harry Wu, Founder and Executive Director, Laogai Research Foundation and Laogai Museum

Panel II:

Thea Lee, Deputy Chief of Staff, AFL-CIO

Mary Gallagher, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan

Earl Brown, Labor and Employment Law Counsel and China Program Director, Solidarity Center, AFL-CIO

Phone Number: 
(202) 226-3766