Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who begins a visit to China today to discuss human rights, should look into reports of labour abuse in the construction of the Montreal Gardens in Shanghai.
Montr?al, 14 July 2000 – Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who begins a visit to China today to discuss human rights, should look into reports of labour abuse in the construction of the Montreal Gardens in Shanghai.
Workers at the gardens, which are funded by the City of Montreal, the Qu?bec and federal governments and Canadian corporations, are subjected to long hours, poor living conditions and low wages.
“The labourers at the Montreal Gardens in Shanghai have been forced to work up to 13 hours a day and seven days a week in order to finish the gardens in time for its opening this week,” today said Han Dongfang, director of the China Labour Bulletin, an independent labour-watch group based in Hong Kong. “These long hours violate Chinese labour law and the foreign investors should be held accountable.”
Canadian taxpayers are paying more than half of the estimated $5.61 million Montreal Gardens project, which has been the brainchild of Montreal Mayor Pierre Bourque, while corporations such as Power Corporation, Air Canada and Cinar have contributed another million dollars. The gardens feature a pavilion with a multimedia presentation showcasing Quebec businesses. Reliable reports obtained by the China Labour Bulletin reveal that workers were housed in sub-standard housing without plumbing, surrounded by garbage and forced to work long hours to meet the construction deadline.
Rights & Democracy, which works with labour activists and the China Labour Bulletin, said that since workers in China cannot organize independent unions, it’s up to foreign investors to set an example and adhere to internationally recognized core labour standards. Independent labour activity is suppressed and several trade union activists are currently serving long prison sentences.
Canada has engaged in a bilateral human rights dialogue with China since 1997. Mr. Axworthy should investigate how Canadian taxpayers’dollars are contributing to abusive practices, Rights & Democracy said today.