The number of labor disputes heard by China’s courts rose 59% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2009 as employees tried to recoup lost wages from companies that succumbed to the economic downturn. A total of 98,568 cases were heard during the three-month period, China Daily reported, citing the Supreme People’s Court. A bumper 286,221 labor dispute cases were heard in 2008 as a whole, up 93% year-on-year. While blaming closures arising from the downturn for most of problems, Du Wanhua, an official with the court, said the introduction of the Labor Contract Law was also significant. It gave workers a more solid legal base for their complaints and also made them more aware of their rights.