In April of this year, a group of Chinese workers, frustrated and angry at their employer’s long-standing refusal to pay their pension contributions, stormed into their manager’s office and demanded payment. The manager prevaricated and made empty promises. When he realized the workers were not going away, he called the police and had the ringleaders arrested for imprisoning him in his office.
Only a few years ago, that might have been the end of the story. The workers would have been cowed into dropping their claims and their leaders would never have been heard of again. But China is a very different place today and the workers at this jewelry factory on the outskirts of Guangzhou did not give up or give in.… Seguir leyendo »
There is no legal right to strike in China, but there are strikes every day. Factory workers, hotel employees, teachers and taxi drivers regularly withdraw their labor and demand a better deal from their employer. Strikes are often successful, and these days strike leaders hardly ever get put in prison.
It may seem ironic that workers in a nominally Communist country don’t have the right to strike, and that workers are apparently willing to defy the Communist Party by going out on strike. But China effectively abandoned Communism and embraced capitalism many years ago. And in a capitalist economy, strikes are a fact of life.… Seguir leyendo »
The workers who have created China’s economic miracle are tiring of being treated like cogs in a machine, working long hours in dangerous conditions for derisory pay. They are now saying enough is enough, staging strikes and protests across the country to demand not just their basic legal rights but a better standard of living, better working conditions and a better future.
Strikes and worker protests are not new in China. In the manufacturing heartland, the Pearl River Delta, there are up to 10,000 labor disputes each year. Indeed, back in the spring of 2008, a high-ranking local union official described strikes as “as natural as arguments between a husband and wife.”
But what we are seeing now is an intensive phase of worker activism that reflects the rapid recovery of the Chinese economy and, more importantly, the failure of the government to tackle the fundamental issues that give rise to these disputes: low pay, the lack of formal channels for worker grievances and demands, and the exclusion of migrant workers from education, health care and social services in the cities.… Seguir leyendo »