Factory Assessments and Improvement
Since its founding in 2000, CLW has conducted over 400 assessments of labor conditions in Chinese factories making products for multinational companies across industries ranging from furniture to shoes, stationary to toys, and garment to electronics. These assessments utilize a mixture of undercover investigation and off-site worker interviews. Assessment findings are ultimately written in reports that CLW releases to international media outlets, often gaining global attention. The reports have increased transparency in international supply chains, encouraging buyers and brand companies to more effectively implement their codes of conduct and social standards.
Companies must be held responsible for the legality and social costs associated with their business activities. For companies with suppliers or factories in China, this undoubtedly means that Chinese workers' rights and interests must be a concern of the company and all involved stakeholders. Companies rely on the labor provided by factory workers, and they should afford those workers a corresponding amount of respect by abiding by labor laws and offering workers a fair share of the fruits of their labor.
As CLW uncovers labor abuses, we sometimes engage in dialogues with the CSR departments of relevant brand companies and the factory management team to develop action plans to resolve current problems and implement positive changes.
Out of its Chinese offices, CLW implements local worker and activist outreach projects.
CLW engages with workers in their workplace and communities, distributing pamphlets detailing basic rights and local legal resources and providing targeted training on labor laws and local labor issues. The community training not only provides legal knowledge to workers, but also expands workers’ network and support system, and facilitated peer communications among workers. CLW has trained thousands of workers through its community training projects.
Train the Trainer (Activist Training)
CLW partners with legal experts in human rights and labor law to conduct legal training sessions to cultivate local labor activists in China on the most effective strategies for providing labor law training to workers. The program has provided free training on labor law and collective bargaining strategies to hundreds of labor activists. CLW has also worked to expand the network of Chinese NGOs engaging in labor issues by helping to establish four worker legal centers.
Collective Bargaining Training
Collective bargaining is a process of voluntary negotiation between employers and workers aimed at reaching agreements to adjust working conditions. Collective agreements usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms, and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs.
The right to collectively bargain is recognized through international human rights conventions. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights identifies the ability to organize trade unions as a fundamental human right. Item 2(a) of the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work defines the "freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining" as an essential right of workers.
Despite the recognition of collective bargaining as a fundamental human right, real collective bargaining is seldom an option for the majority of Chinese workers.
China Labor Watch is working to change this. CLW is engaged in educating workers and labor activists about collective bargaining rights and approaches that workers should consider when engaging with employers to demand a fair wage and acceptable working conditions.
CLW’s hotline program serves as a resource center for local workers. Hotline staff are trained to deal with a full range of issues involving local labor law in Guangdong province, including labor contracts, wages and working hours, female worker protection, insurance, health and safety, living conditions, benefits, and more.
Workers contact the hotline by phone and instant messaging services like QQ. Through the hotline, workers may voice their grievances in a safe and confidential manner, and workers' concerns and issues are recorded.
Since 2009, the hotline program has provided free advice and labor dispute resolution strategies to factory workers in more than 5,000 cases. The worker hotline program not only serves to assist workers in dealing with immediate concerns or grievances, but it also develops a stronger rights awareness among workers, encouraging them to engage directly with employers to uphold their rights.