China: Guangzhou court says violations of women workers' rights have become increasingly serious

Author: China Labour Bulletin (Hong Kong), Published on: 21 June 2019

“Violations of women workers’ rights widespread says Guangzhou court”, 20 June 2019

… According to a detailed report issued… by the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, from 2015 to 2018, the lower courts in Guangzhou handled up to 4,000 cases involving women workers’ rights violations each year, with up to 2,000 cases each year going to the appeals courts.

The intermediate court said women workers’ rights cases fell into four main categories.

Firstly, women workers suffer from blatant discrimination during the hiring process…

Secondly, women workers are often subject to dismissal or pay cuts during pregnancy, childbirth and while breastfeeding. Employers frequently do not provide legally-mandated maternity benefits or grant maternity leave…

The court noted that sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread but that victims have difficulty bringing such cases to court because usually the only witnesses are the victim and the perpetrator. Victims often cannot provide sufficient evidence to secure a conviction...

Finally, ...the widespread covert discrimination that occurs in the workplace when traditional attitudes regarding the role of women in society are given free rein. Women are paid less and have fewer opportunities for career advancement, especially when returning to work after looking after children.

These issues are of course not just confined to Guangzhou but are widely replicated across the whole of China. A survey of professional employees in China by an online recruitment… showed that women earned on average 6,497 yuan per month in 2018, just 78 percent of the average wage for men. While in engineering and manufacturing industries, men occupied an incredible 95 percent of senior management positions.

...the Guangzhou court has established a “green channel” for women workers’ rights cases that can facilitate a speedy and just resolution through personalised guidance for litigants.

…The court also stressed the role of local women’s federations, trade unions and industry federations in resolving disputes on the ground before they escalate into litigation…

...the court announced a major publicity campaign to educate both employers and women workers about their rights... the court is publishing detailed studies of typical cases that highlight the most common problems in the workplace and the role of the courts in protecting women workers’ rights...

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