New rights for Chinese

PEKING - The Chinese government yesterday published its first modern labour law, promising better rights for workers, but also sounding the formal death knell for old 'iron rice bowl' guarantees, which meant jobs for life, writes Teresa Poole.

The new law has taken 15 years and 30 drafts to reach fruition. Its measures include specifying a minimum wage, a ban on child labour, and an eight-hour working day. There are extra measures to help women, including 90 days' maternity leave.

For the government, the main problem is trying to avoid social unrest while shedding large numbers of state factory workers. Meanwhile, workers in China's new, profitable factories are increasingly up in arms about poor pay, lack of safety and bad working conditions.