Encourage your local labor unions and trade unions to support workers in China and learn more about restrictions on those workers:
Write to authorities in China and international organizations
Sample letter to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU):
Chairman Wang Zhanghou
All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU)
10 Fuxing Men Wai Da Jie, Haidian District
People's Republic of China
[Insert Your Name/ Name of Labor Union you represent] [is/am/are] writing to express [my/our] concern regarding ongoing reports of violations of workers' rights and the frequent harassment and even detention of workers who try to raise issues of concern in China.
The exploitation of workers exists on many levels because workers are restricted from exercising their right to freedom of association. The detention of workers for attempting to organize labor movements in response to rights violations is of serious concern. Such violations include abuses of basic rights and benefits such as payment of wages, reasonable working hours, retirement pensions, compensation for illness or occupational injuries, unemployment compensation, and maternity leave. Without independent workers' organizations, workers are limited in their ability to promote safer and fairer working conditions and other protections.
Although it has signed a number of international human rights treaties that apply to the human rights situation of workers, China has insisted on reservations to articles guaranteeing the rights to freedom of association and to form and join independent trade unions.
[I/ Labor Union you represent] urge[s] the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to condemn violations of workers' rights and to genuinely represent and support China's workers as they struggle to protect these labor rights.
[your name/ Labor Union name and representative]
Sample letter to the International Labor Organization (ILO):
Director General Juan Somavia
International Labor Organization
4 route des Morillons
CH-1211 Genève 22
I am writing to bring to your attention the ongoing violations of workers' rights in China and the frequent harassment and even detention of labor leaders, like Yao Fuxin, who try to raise issues of concern.
In 2001, Beijing Olympic official Liu Jingmin stated that the "Games are an opportunity to foster democracy, improve human rights, and integrate China with the rest of the world." As fellow union members we realize that workers are the engine that keeps a country moving towards progress and change-yet workers in China are denied basic human rights such as the right to organize and bargain collectively. Punishments imposed on those who organize labor in response to rights violations are often harsh and unfair.
The only national trade union in China is the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which has operated more as a workforce control agency than as a traditional union. Any attempts by workers to organize independent unions or worker organizations are often severely suppressed. Without independent workers' organizations, workers are limited in their ability to promote safe and fair working conditions.
In March 2004, the ILO Governing Body again adopted the recommendations of the Committee on Freedom of Association, which includes an appeal to the Chinese government to "take the necessary measures for the immediate release of Yao Fuxin." Despite the continued calls for his release, Yao remains in detention with serious health problems. During this period of increased international scrutiny of China's human rights record in the lead-up to the Olympics, we urge you to again call for Yao Fuxin's immediate release and the release of other labor activists imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of association.