Employment & Labor

Chinese authorities accepted 693,000 labor dispute cases last year, 98 percent higher than a year earlier, as the economic downturn triggered production cuts and even bankruptcies.

Yang Zhiming, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, released the data at a conference Friday in Shenzhen, a booming city in south China's Guangdong Province.

The cases involved more than 1.2 million workers, up 90 percent from the previous year, Yang said.

Of the total, 22,000 cases were collective labor disputes that involves more than three workers each. The number was up 71 percent year on year and each case involved 23 workers on average, he said.

Workers sought to safeguard more basic interests and rights, including no lay-offs and no back pay, the official said.

The authorities used more mediation and arbitrage in settling labor disputes in a bid to help businesses ride out the hard times while safeguarding workers' interests, he said.

Yang added that another 237,000 labor disputes were settled through mediation.

China's economy grew 9 percent annually in 2008, sharply lower than the 13 percent in 2007, as the global financial crisis took its toll on the world's third-largest economy.

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