Switzerland has joined an international project aimed at improving workers' rights in China. The Swiss government has invested $2 million (SFr3.57 million) in developing labour-management relations in three big Chinese economic centres.This content was published on June 5, 2001 - 08:04
"The project will help enterprises, workers and governmental officials in these zones to develop a better human resource management system," said project leader, Lorence Ansermet, of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco).
The project is being organised by the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation, and it is the first time that Seco has agreed to finance an ILO endeavour. Beijing signed up to the scheme on May 18.
Ansermet told swissinfo that the project will help to promote human rights in China, which has long been criticised by the United Nations and United States for its poor human rights record. He said China's willingness to become involved in the project showed that Beijing was eager to instil better working practices.
"The Chinese see it is in their interests to improve working conditions and in this way the human rights situation. To us, it's important to have Chinese consent and they really want to go ahead with the project. Also, they have ownership of it, too."
Ansermet said a technical advisor had been appointed to work with the Chinese government to select firms which could benefit from better human resource management.
"We are trying to promote socially-conscious globalisation," said Ansermet. "Seco has the mandate to try and integrate developing countries into the global economy. But with this project we are going to try to help the workers to benefit from globalisation and not just the enterprises and their bosses."
Ansermet told swissinfo that Switzerland has long experience in conflict management and labour-management relations. She said Seco would be trying to adapt the Swiss experience to suit the conditions and requirements in China.
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