Posted on February 21, 2013 by reed
21 February 2013
By Daniel Hurst, National Times
Chinese workers are now launching too many strikes and protests for authorities to suppress, according to a union dissident visiting Australia.
Chinese dissident Han Dongfang, who was expelled from the country 20 years ago, told the Australian Workers’ Union conference on the Gold Coast the new generation of Chinese workers were better educated and aspirational than their parents and no longer willing to accept exploitation.
He spoke of the 2010 strike at the Honda plant in Nanhai that secured 24 per cent pay rise and a promise of democratic union elections. Meanwhile, employees at a state-owned oil firm in the Maoist heartland of Yan’an staged protests and demanded talks with management after a push to cut job security and benefits.
Han Dongfang, who founded China’s first independent trade union during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, said many people may ask themselves why the Chinese government had allowed the workers’ movement to develop to the point where even state-owned enterprises had to listen to their employees.
But he said there were now simply too many strikes and worker protests to suppress. (more…)
Filed under: Asia, China, Economy-China, People's Struggles-China, State Repression, Working Class | Tagged: china, out of control, widespread rebellion, worker protests, Working Class | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 28, 2012 by reed
[This essay from Jacobin magazine traces the trajectory of recent working class struggle in China. It draws on many unknown examples, and for that reason Frontlines posts this material for our readers. The analysis and conclusions drawn by the author are his own. -- Frontlines ed.]
Few in the West are aware of the drama unfolding in today’s “epicenter of global labor unrest.” A scholar of China exposes its tumultuous labor politics and their lessons for the Left.
Workers on strike blocking the entrance gate of Hi-P International factory yell slogans during a protest in Shanghai Dec 2. Labor actions in the country are increasing. REUTERS photo
At the same time, Chinese workers are depicted as the pitiable victims of globalization, the guilty conscience of First World consumers. Passive and exploited toilers, they suffer stoically for our iPhones and bathtowels. And only we can save them, by absorbing their torrent of exports, or campaigning benevolently for their humane treatment at the hands of “our” multinationals.
For parts of the rich-world left, the moral of these opposing narratives is that here, in our own societies, labor resistance is consigned to history’s dustbin. Such resistance is, first of all, perverse and decadent. What entitles pampered Northern workers, with their “First World problems,” to make material demands on a system that already offers them such abundance furnished by the wretched of the earth? And in any case, resistance against so formidable a competitive threat must surely be futile.
By depicting Chinese workers as Others – as abject subalterns or competitive antagonists – this tableau wildly miscasts the reality of labor in today’s China. Far from triumphant victors, Chinese workers are facing the same brutal competitive pressures as workers in the West, often at the hands of the same capitalists. More importantly, it is hardly their stoicism that distinguishes them from us.
Today, the Chinese working class is fighting. More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place. (more…)
Filed under: Asia, China, Economy-China, Foreign investment, People's Struggles-China, State Repression, Working Class | Tagged: china, market reform, workers revolt, workers strikes | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 12, 2012 by reed
Nov 10, 2012 by TheRealNews
A discussion with Minqi Li:
New leadership committed to capitalism in China but will they be able to deal with coming global crisis?
Filed under: China, Chinese Communist Party, Chinese imperialism, Economy-China, State Repression, Working Class | Tagged: capitalist leaders, capitalist road, china, communist party, Minqi Li | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 9, 2012 by reed
by Shui Mui, China Left Review (Issue # 4) — (researcher, mainly focusing on migrant workers and labor-capital relations)
In March, 2009, I interviewed a Shenzhen based migrant workers’ rights activist. The interview helps us better comprehend the current conditions of migrant workers in China.
1. Workplace Injuries
A Hong Kong NGO put out a report (Arms and Legs), which discussed workplace injuries in China. At present in Shenzhen, many factories adopted new machinery equipped with infrared technologies, which could help prevent workers’ injuries. But that didn’t mean that older machinery left the Chinese scene altogether, it just moved inland. Still, Shenzhen’s rate of workplace injuries did not decrease, they only became more intense. Many 18-25 year old workers who just started working were injured in the first few days of work. This was because at many factories there was no training for newly hired workers.
Small factories owned by local investors are well below standard. When workplace injury related incidents occur, bosses frequently jump ship. Many workers’ injuries are not covered by regulations on the books that ensure workplace injury insurance. Electronics and shoe factories use a great amount of chemicals during production, without needed measures to prevent workplace poisoning. Smaller scale factories are especially weak in this area. Most of the workers in electronics factories are women, accounting for 70-80 percent of the workforce. Their work has a great impact on their reproductive systems, and the frequency of their falling ill is quite high. This is not only a problem for individual women workers, it also affects the next generation of offspring. One of the staff at University of Science and Engineering opened a battery factory where the majority of women workers fell ill to cadmium poisoning. One of these workers gave birth to an infant with a large black stripe on its body, which no one could explain. There have emerged many new chemicals used in factories are not covered by Chinese law. It’s estimate that in the next few years, rates of factory dust related lung disease will surge. This amounts to the end of the incubation period for diseases acquired since the process of economic liberalization began. Grinder’s disease, especially prevalent among miners, has already ended countless workers’ lives. Others with the disease are simply waiting to die.
Since the labor shortage that started in 2004, it should be noted that women workers are also finding it easier to secure jobs. Because women are regarded as more physically nimble, more obedient thanks to traditional culture in the countryside, much like previous generations of women workers in Korea, factory owners are predisposed to hiring them. Furthermore, if women workers look to fight for their rights, they typically have a much harder time than male counterparts. (more…)
Filed under: China, Economy-China, Foreign investment, Minority nationalities, Peasants, People's Struggles-China, State Repression, Working Class | Tagged: china, economic crisis, migrant workers, Shenzhen, capitalist china, rural migrant workers, worker activism, world economy | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 8, 2012 by reed
Living on Earth, 8 November, 2012
[Chinese protesters, like the one pictured here, have had success recently in beating back industrial projects. (Photo by Josh Chin.)]
China’s efforts to grow its economy and its manufacturing base are meeting resistance as the country’s middle class burgeons. In Ningbo, a plan to build a petrochemical plant was beaten back by protesters in the street who say these plants are affecting their health.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Ningbo, China, recently in opposition to a petrochemical plant they feel is a danger to public health.
After three days of demonstrations, and clashes between protesters and the police, the government has called the project off — at least for now.
Ben Carlson, a journalist with the Global Post who lives in Hong Kong, said the protests started out as a series of smaller protests.
“By the time the weekend rolled around there were several thousand people in the streets,” he said. “There were reports of the protesters overturning cars, and the police arrested several of the demonstrators — that actually became one of the causes that people were demonstrating against later on.” (more…)
Filed under: China, Chinese Communist Party, Economy-China, People's Struggles-China, State Repression, Working Class | Tagged: chemical plant, china, chinese protesters, environment, health compromise, health concerns, ningbo, petrochemical plant, protest, science | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 18, 2012 by reed
Reuters, Beijing, Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the city of Luzhou in southwestern China on Wednesday, after reports a truck driver was beaten to death by policemen, residents said.
Pictures and video on China’s popular microblogging site Sina Weibo showed an apparently dead man sprawled out on the ground next to a truck as police held back onlookers.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the photos and calls seeking comment from the Luzhou government in Sichuan province went unanswered.
China’s Communist Party has been trying to keep a lid on protests ahead of a meeting in Beijing next month which will usher in a new generation of leaders.
Residents contacted by telephone said they had heard reports that traffic policemen had beaten a truck driver to death after an unspecified dispute.
Protesters burned police car in Luzhou
“People are very angry about this and are out on the streets to show their anger,” said one resident of the Hongxingcun neighborhood where the unrest was focused. He did not witness the incident and declined to give his name.
A manager at a local restaurant who gave her family name as Wang added that several thousand people had taken to the streets.
Images posted later in the evening showed overturned police cars, some of which had been set alight.
Some Weibo posts said the police had used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
“The protests are still going on,” a third resident, who gave his family name as Li, said by telephone.
China’s ruling Communist Party worries that the tens of thousands of sporadic protests over land grabs, corruption, abuse of power and economic grievances that break out every year could coalesce into a national movement and threaten its control.
China saw almost 90,000 such “mass incidents” of riots, protests, mass petitions and other acts of unrest in 2009, according to a 2011 study by two scholars from Nankai University in north China. Some estimates go even higher.
That is an increase from 2007, when China had over 80,000 mass incidents, according to an earlier report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Most protests are either dispersed by security forces, or by officials promising demonstrators their demands will be heeded. None have so far even come close to becoming national movements which could challenge the central government
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