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Peabody pledges to respect worker rights in China

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Peabody Energy says it will respect workers' rights and demand safe mining practices in China.

Last week the St. Louis-based coal company announced plans to partner with state-owned Chinese coal company Shenhua.

China has the worst mine safety record in the world. But Peabody spokesman Vic Svec says American safety and labor standards will be in effect overseas.

"We would insist that any of Peabody's practices regarding safety and workers' rights in the U.S. also apply for any of the operations that we would have interests in in China," Svec said.

Peabody recently updated its ethics code to prohibit the use of prison labor and allow workers to bargain collectively.

Leaders of the United Mine Workers union say that was because of pressure from organized labor, but Svec says the changes were routine.

Peabody is holding its annual shareholder meeting Friday in Clayton.