Worker strikes in China ‘too common to suppress’

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. Continue reading

France: Millions of workers take to the streets

[An impressive mobilization of trade union numbers, but where it will lead depends on the role, actions, and influence of radical activists. As this al-Jazeera article points out,  “Workers’ unions may have considerable political influence, but historically youth protest have contributed significantly toward bringing down government reforms….More than 150 young people were detained across the country on Friday, according to the interior ministry. Both students and police have been injured, and the ministry has urged police to exercise restraint…Juliane Charton, the treasurer for the UNL, a leading student union, said the government was choosing repression over dialogue with the student movement.”–ed.]

al-Jazeera, 16 Oct 2010

Protests attack France pension plan

The battle over a planned overhaul of France’s pension system has intensified, with


Protesters in Paris as part of a national day of mass rallies against pension reforms


hundreds of thousands of people taking part in the latest of a series of protests across the country.

Labour unions said that more than 2.5 million people joined the demonstrations on Saturday as strikes shut down oil refineries, sparking fears of a petrol shortage, and temporarily cut supplies to Paris’s airports.

“Both sides seem to be really digging their heels in. [President] Sarkozy wants people to know he’s not giving into pressure from the street,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from the French capital, said.

A broad alliance of unions, left-wing parties and students warned that another nationwide protest will be held on Tuesday in a final attempt to stop the legislation, which would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and see state pensions not awarded until aged 67, ahead of a government vote on Wednesday. Continue reading