Action Plan tasks turned into reality

Vice-Minister Wang Xiaochu of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security gave a speech at the “Assessment Meeting of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010)” in Beijing on Tuesday. Following are excerpts:

The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010) was an important measure to push forward the country’s human rights, implementing the constitutional principle of respecting and safeguarding human rights, and promoting sustainable development and social harmony.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has established a special team to implement the tasks assigned to the ministry in the Action Plan and we have met our goals on schedule.

First, to cope with the global financial crisis, the ministry issued a series of policies intended to stabilize the job market and create new jobs, these included strengthening vocational skills training, and helping college graduates and rural workers to find jobs.

In two years, 22.7 million new jobs were created in urban areas, 26.1 percent higher than the target set by the Action Plan, and 19.39 million farmers found jobs in cities, 7.7 percent higher than the target set by the Action Plan, while the registered urban unemployment rate till the end of last year was kept at 4.1 percent, 0.9 percentage points lower than the plan’s 5 percent ceiling.

The ministry also made effective efforts to ensure equal rights between female and male employees and promote employment for people with disabilities.

Second, the ministry made greater efforts to construct harmonious labor relations. By implementing the Labor Contract Law, 97 percent of large enterprises and 65 percent of small firms had signed labor contracts with their employees by the end of last year.

Meanwhile, some 14,000 third-party organs were established across the country to coordinate labor relations. Other measures introduced by the ministry to guarantee workers’ rights include the minimum wage system, wage monitoring system and special protective terms for female workers.

Third, the ministry helped improve social security policies. At the end of last year, the basic old-age pension covered 257 million people across the country, medical insurance covered 432 million, unemployment insurance 134 million, industrial injury insurance 162 million and child-bearing insurance 123 million, all ahead of schedule.

In rural areas, the system of rural society endowment insurance launched in 2009 now covers 140 million people, while some 830 million people in rural areas joined the cooperative medical system.

Fourth, the ministry strengthened its work on protecting rural workers’ rights. By promoting specimen contracts to enterprises, especially those in the fields of construction, catering and service, the ministry urged enterprises to sign employment contracts with rural workers and supervised the procedure. In addition, it established and improved payment-ensuring and minimum payment systems, and increased skills-training programs for rural workers.

Also at the assessment meeting, an official, from the Office of the State Council Leading Group for Poverty Alleviation and Development, said the Chinese government has been putting people’s right to live and develop at the forefront of its human rights cause.

The authorities have taken important measures to fulfill the ambitious plan. In 2009, China’s national poverty line was raised from 865 yuan (about $133) to 1,196 yuan, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of people receiving government subsidies – from 10.04 million to 40.07 million.

The central government set aside 42 billion yuan as special poverty-alleviation funds and borrowed 68.1 billion yuan as a discount government loan to meet the challenge presented by the rise in the number of people living in poverty. Local governments also invested as much as 22.5 billion yuan to aid the poor.

With government assistance, more than 1.39 million people bade farewell to their shabby and harsh living conditions and moved to better places of their own choosing. The displaced people after the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes are just cases in point. They not only have new houses in safer places, they also have new lives there.

The extremely disadvantaged groups, such as some ethnic minority groups, women and the handicapped have always been the priority for China’s poverty-alleviation cause. The Chinese government has paid special attention to guarantee local women fair job opportunities and an equal share of economic resources in the past two years.

The infrastructure in poor areas has witnessed rapid progress too. In 2010, 88.1 percent of impoverished villages had asphalt roads, 98 percent had power, and 95.6 percent received TV broadcast programs.

With the overall increase in living standards, the national poverty line looks set to be updated constantly. The Chinese government will certainly continue its efforts to fulfill the new action plan from 2011 to 2020, which will be released soon.

In the next stage, the authority will do more to provide the poor with more public services, such as healthcare, education and job opportunities.

Coordination at the regional, national and international levels will be further boosted to optimize resource allocation. And the central government will strengthen its supervision and audit the use of funds and materials to ensure the transparency of this meaningful work, not only for the country, but also for the world.

Source: China Daily

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