Labour activist Han hampered by arrests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 November, 1994, 12:00am

FORMER labour leader Han Dongfang said he could no longer keep close contact with his mainland colleagues because they had either been jailed or arrested.

'All those I could keep contact with have been arrested or jailed. In other words, I have lost all the links with colleagues in the mainland,' Mr Han said, adding that he could not do much work for progress of the labour movement in China for the time being.

But he said he was trying to collect as much information as possible on labour rights and distribute it to the outside world to make more people concerned about deteriorating working conditions in China.

'I don't think this work could have any significant impact on the labour movement in the mainland. I just want to attract more attention from the outside world. Maybe this could one day have an effect on the labour movement,' he said.

He criticised the Trade Union Law and the Labour Law, which had prevented Chinese workers from striking and setting up free trade unions. Workers had to get approval from the All China Federation of Trade Unions, which is under the control of the Communist Party, before they could take any action or set up organisations.

Evidence showed that discontent among labourers had reach a dangerous level, which would cause instability in society, he said.

'We can see safety standards in Chinese factories are worsening, leading to disastrous accidents, while more and more strikes have occurred in recent years.' This was as a result of neglecting labour's voice, he said. 'We can never talk about labour rights without the participation of workers.'