Country's first labor court opens
Dedicated division to promote healthy development of sharing economy
China's first court for handling labor disputes opened in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Friday to better protect workers' rights and maintain good relations between employers and employees.
Suzhou Labor Court was set up as a division of the Suzhou Intermediate People's Court after the Supreme People's Court, the country's top court, approved its creation in June.
The labor court will meet new legal demands in the new economy, safeguard the rights of employees, and promote the healthy development of internet platforms and the sharing economy, the intermediate court said in a statement.
It will research problems in new labor relations, including employment by internet platforms, and will also organize special teams of judges to strengthen efforts in hearing new types of labor disputes, such as those involving ride-hailing services, livestreaming and online food delivery services, it said.
Gao Jinghong, vice-president of the top court, highlighted the significance of the labor court, saying the handling of labor-related cases should be a priority in improving economic development.
Calling on judges to efficiently solve disputes between employees and employers by updating their ways of thinking and trial systems, he said the court should form a professional and interdisciplinary judicial team that not only understands the law, but also economic development and policies providing social guarantees.
"We decided to establish the court in Suzhou because the city has seen a number of influential labor-related cases in recent years, giving strong support to employees' rights and effectively maintaining order in the operation of enterprises," Gao said.
Xu Kunlin, Party secretary of Suzhou, said the establishment of the labor court by the Supreme People's Court was a crucial reform, and it would try its best to provide strong legal protection and high-quality legal services for employees to make the employment environment fairer and more orderly.
Suzhou was home to 5.47 million employees at the end of last month, he said, an increase of 274,800, or about 5.3 percent on the figure 12 months earlier.
Data released by the intermediate court showed Suzhou courts heard 10,542 labor-related cases last year, up 18.6 percent year-on-year.
"Harmonious labor relations matter for immediate employee interests, economic growth and social stability," Xu said, adding that creativity will only be fully unleashed if workers can benefit from good work and labor relations.
Describing the labor court as an opportunity for innovation in the handling of labor-related cases, Xia Daohu, president of the Jiangsu High People's Court, asked it to improve judicial efficiency by offering diverse solutions to disputes.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the nation has established courts specializing in other categories of cases, including intellectual property rights, finance and the internet, to improve the professionalism and efficiency of hearings.