BEIJING (AP) -- Labor-related lawsuits in China rose nearly 60 percent this year due to factory shutdowns and mass layoffs, state media reported Wednesday.
China's factories were hard hit when overseas demand for their exports evaporated because of the global financial crisis.
In the first three months of this year, nearly 10,000 labor-related cases were heard, a 59 percent increase from a year earlier, the official China Daily reported, citing figures from the Supreme People's Court.
The rise was also partially attributed to the Labor Contract Law, which was implemented in January last year, allowing employees to become more informed of their legal rights, the newspaper said.
The first-quarter rise comes after labor-related lawsuits filed in 2008 jumped 93 percent to 286,221, in the biggest year-on-year increase for any type of suit.
More than 20 million migrant workers have lost their jobs in recent months, and thousands of recently unemployed people have protested factory shutdowns and demanded back pay. While China's leaders say they are working to boost the economy, there are fears a further downturn could spark widespread unrest.