September 09 2009
In response to the increase in employment disputes resulting from the global economic crisis, the Supreme People's Court issued the Guiding Opinion on Handling Adjudication Work for Employment Dispute Cases in the Current Circumstances on July 6 2009.
The guiding opinion sets forth general principles that courts should follow when handling employment disputes during the economic crisis. For example, lower courts are instructed not only to maintain workers' lawful rights, but also to facilitate the development of enterprises. In deciding cases, they should not only apply laws and regulations, but also take into account the government's counter-crisis policies. In general, courts should encourage employees and employers to resolve disputes through consultation and mediation.
The guiding opinion appears to be another step back from the rule of law. Rather than strictly and consistently applying the law, courts are being explicitly encouraged to take political considerations into account when deciding employment cases. This appears to be part of the 'three supremes' doctrine espoused by President Hu Jintao, under which courts should primarily take into account the Communist Party's interests and then the people's interests before applying the constitution and the law.
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