New report on the state of the worker's movement in China

China Labour Bulletin published a report based on a study of 100 different workers' protests, which found that workers there are becoming more effective in organising outside union structures.

Covering two years of struggles, the study found the following trends:

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* Workers took matters into their own hands. Bypassing the largely ineffectual official trade union, they used public protest as a means of forcing local governments to intercede on their behalf. And, in many cases, workers were successful.

* Strikes ignited other protests in the same region, industry or company subsidiaries. The wave of taxi strikes that swept the county at the end of 2008 exemplified both the spread of industry-wide protests and the willingness of local governments to negotiate with the workers.

* Workers’ demands became broader and more sophisticated. Previously, disputes were mostly related to clear-cut violations of labour rights, such as the non-payment of wages, overtime and benefits, but in the last two years collective interest-based disputes came to the fore, with workers seeking higher wages and better working conditions, and protesting arbitrary changes in their employment status and pay scales. One of the major causes of discontent was, for example, attempts by managements to circumvent the new Labour Contract Law by forcing employees to relinquish long-term contracts and rejoin the company on short-term contracts or as temporary labour.

The groups' own summary of the report, with a link to the full document, can be found here.

Posted By

Spartacus
Aug 12 2009 12:03

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