Disability rights advocates call for equal employment

Updated: 2012-12-04 04:07

By He Dan (China Daily)

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Disability rights activists urged top human resource authorities to disclose information about the employment of disabled people in the civil service on Monday, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Incomplete statistics indicate that government departments have failed to recruit sufficient numbers from the country's 85 million disabled people.

Government departments in 29 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have only recruited 92 people with disabilities in the past five years, said Huang Rui, who sent an open letter to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on Monday, citing ministry statistics from 2011.

The statistics first appeared in an evaluation report released by the National People's Congress Standing Committee in August, which examined the enforcement of the law on protecting the disabled. The report also noted that most of the jobs offered were in the country's disabled person's federations.

"I want to know how many disabled civil servants our country has, and whether the proportion has reached 1.5 percent," said Huang, 23, whose left leg was paralyzed from polio in childhood.

"The public service sector provides an important window for people with disabilities to showcase their talents and capabilities," said Huang.

"Only when the government takes the lead to recruit more disabled people will the public better understand people like me, and then other employers will become more willing to employ us," he said.

The regulation on disabled persons' employment, enacted by the State Council in 2007, stipulated that all employers should allocate 1.5 percent of their jobs to people with disabilities. The regulation also stipulated that those who broke this rule should pay fines.

However, there is no public information available about the percentage of disabled people working in government agencies.

Information disclosed by human resources authorities in Shanghai and 17 cities in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces showed that, on average, disabled employees accounted for 0.03 percent of local civil servants, according to a report conducted by Tianxiagong, an anti-discrimination organization in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

Twelve cities have not recruited any disabled people into public service in the past four years, the report said.

Huang said his personal experience offers a glimpse of the discrimination faced by disabled job applicants in public service.

Huang said he applied for the job of judge's assistant in his hometown's court in Henan province in 2011, and he believed he was close to realizing his dream of eventually becoming a judge after he passed the written exam.

The college graduate with a bachelor's degree in law said his scores ranked him third place out of 180 applicants for the eight positions, but his dream was shattered in the interview.

Huang was among the 55 candidates who were interviewed, and he was placed last following the interview process.

"I could not believe the result and I felt insulted," said Huang. "I answered all my questions fluently."

Huang said he believed he was a competitive applicant for the job as he spent six months preparing for the civil service exam and he had previously passed the national judicial exam.

Huang said he was well-spoken because of years' of training in his college's debate club, and he was on the champion team.

"I felt discriminated against because of my disability, but I had no evidence to prove it since the examiners had no obligation to explain why they gave me the lowest mark," he said.

Yang Zhanqing, a lawyer from the Equity and Justice Initiative, said information disclosure is the first step to ensure people with disabilities get equal access to employment in the public service sector.

The Equity and Justice Initiative is an NGO focused on eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

"We have laws and regulations to guarantee disabled people's right to work, but the public have no idea about how the laws and regulations have been implemented without the government disclosing information," said Yang.

Zhou Haibin, project officer on promoting the employment of disabled people at the International Labor Office in Beijing, urged the State Administration of Civil Service to break down barriers that can prevent disabled people taking the national civil service exam.

He suggested the administration ― the exam's organizer ― providing test papers in Braille for candidates with visual impairment.