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US trade action puts pressure on China over rights


International Confederation Of Free Trade Unions

US trade action puts pressure on China to stop violating workers' rights

Brussels: Today in Washington DC, the ICFTU-affiliated AFL-CIO filed a petition under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 demanding that President Bush and the U.S. Trade Representative take action against the Chinese government for engaging in unfair trade practices through their violations of workers' rights.

The AFL-CIO initiative complements other trade union efforts to end the repression of hundreds of millions of Chinese workers, and to curtail the impact of that repression on workers throughout the global economy. According to the ICFTU, millions of jobs from countries including Cambodia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Mexico are being lost to China.

John Sweeney, President of the ICFTU-affiliated AFL-CIO, said at a press conference today that "workers in China are being forced to work for wages 47 to 86 percent below what they should be, often as bonded laborers, with few workplace health and safety protections and no right to join or form free trade unions."

According to ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder, "The violations of workers' rights in China, and the knock-on effects of this can no longer be ignored by the international community. Such national efforts to prevent unfair trading practices by China underline the lack of effective multilateral mechanisms to handle this problem."

This is the first time the workers' rights provisions of the US Trade Act of 1974 have ever been used as a basis for a filing under section 301. According to the AFL-CIO, President Bush and the US Trade Representative can only refuse to take action if they find that the Chinese government does not persistently deny workers' rights, or that the denial of those rights imposes no burden on US workers.

See report in China from the ICFTU's annual survey of trade union rights violations: http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991217713

See the AFL-CIO's website: http://www.aflcio.org

Section 301 of the 1974 US Trade Act http://www.osec.doc.gov/ogc/occic/301.html

The ICFTU represents over 150 million workers in 233 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

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