Posts tagged ‘China Labour Bulletin’

02/11/2015

What Will the Two-Child Policy Mean for China’s Property Market? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s latest move to scrap its one-child policy buoyed property developer stocks Friday on hopes it could provide a boost to housing demand.

All Chinese couples will be allowed to have two children, Chinese official media said Thursday, after a meeting of top officials. While a timetable hasn’t been established, there are prospects that an increase in the size of Chinese households could raise demand for larger homes.

Shanghai housewife Tracy Li said she and her husband will be looking for a larger home once their two sons, one aged four and one who is almost a year, get older. They currently live in a two-bedroom apartment in Shanghai’s Minhang district. Like many Chinese parents, she doesn’t think it’s necessary for each child to have their own room but want to be able to accommodate grandparents, who in China are frequently deeply involved in childcare.

“When the children are older, it’s not too good for them to share a bedroom with their grandparents when they come over,” said the 34-year-old Ms. Li, who asked to be referred to by her English, rather than her Chinese, name. Finding a home in a good school district will take some time, said Ms. Li, who wants to move before her oldest son reaches school age.

Source: What Will the Two-Child Policy Mean for China’s Property Market? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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11/03/2015

Chinese shoe factory workers strike over benefits | Reuters

About 5,000 workers have gone on strike at a shoe manufacturer in southern China over benefits, two activists and a worker said, marking one of the biggest work-stoppages in the country in months.

The company that owns the factory, Stella International Holdings Ltd, lists Guess? Inc, Michael Kors Holding Ltd, Prada SpA and Burberry Group PLC among its customers.

China’s slowing economy, rising costs and the spread of social media have driven an increase in strikes. Last year, the number of strikes more than doubled to 1,378 from 656 the year before, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group.

The strike at Stella’s Xing Ang factory in the city of Dongguan started on Sunday with workers unhappy about not receiving housing assistance, said Liu Zai, who added she had not received the funds in eight years at the factory.

“We want an explanation. Why haven’t they paid this for so many years?” she said by telephone.

Liu and two activists said all of the factory’s workers, about 5,000 people, were on strike. On Wednesday, most were forced to return to their workplace but were still refusing to work, Liu said.

via Chinese shoe factory workers strike over benefits | Reuters.

19/10/2014

China’s Workers Are Getting Restless – Businessweek

China does not have large independent labor unions, yet the world’s second-largest economy has witnessed an increasing number of worker strikes over the past year.

Police guard outside the Yue Yuan shoe factory after workers returned to work in Dongguan, China on April 28 following a two-week strike

According to an Oct. 14 report from the Hong Kong-based watchdog group China Labour Bulletin (CLB), the number of strikes and worker protests in the third quarter of 2014 was double the number of labor actions recorded in the same period last year: From July to September this year, the watchdog group recorded 372 strikes and worker protests across China, compared with 185 incidents over those months last year.

What’s more, the habit of organizing collective action—often through social media—is spreading beyond China’s traditional manufacturing hub of southern Guangdong province. While the number of strikes in Guangdong province has remained roughly the same, unrest has intensified in inland China. In 2013, Guangdong accounted for 35 percent of recorded labor actions vs. 19 percent this year.

Half of all recorded worker strikes and protests arose from disputes over late or unpaid wages—perhaps symptoms of economic troubles hitting manufacturers as well as tightening credit in China, according to CLB.

Also notable is the uptick in strikes led by construction workers, from just four demonstrations last summer to 55 this summer. Amid a slumping housing market, new home prices in August tumbled in 68 of 70 Chinese cities monitored by the government. As the CLB report explains, “Developers are saddled with declining sales, weaker credit availability, and continued pressure from local governments to buy land. In these situations, it is the construction workers who are always the last to be paid.”

China’s only official union is the government-linked All China Federation of Trade Unions, which lacks credibility with most workers. To date, it has only ever formally leant support to one worker strike, according to records reviewed by the liberal American Prospect magazine. Yet Chinese workers are increasingly organizing within their individual workplaces to press for higher wages, timely payments, and social security benefits. So far, these individual strikes have not coalesced into a broader, coordinated movement, which almost certainly would incur a speedy government crackdown.

via China’s Workers Are Getting Restless – Businessweek.

14/05/2014

China’s Young Migrant Workers Earn More, Send Less Home – Businessweek

China’s younger migrant workers are better educated, spend more, save less, and prefer living in China’s bigger cities. They make up close to one-half of the migrant workforce, according to a survey released Monday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

A migrant worker in Beijing

Those from the younger generation, born after 1980—or balinghou (literally, “80 after”)—number 125 million, or 46.6 percent of China’s 269 million migrant workers. One-third have a high school education or higher; that’s 19.2 percentage points more than the older generation, the survey shows.

Unlike their parents, they aren’t inclined to scrimp devotedly in order to send  hard-earned kuai back to the countryside. The average younger migrant worker remitted 12,802 yuan ($2,054) to a hometown in rural China; that’s about 30 percent less than older workers did.

via China’s Young Migrant Workers Earn More, Send Less Home – Businessweek.

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28/04/2014

Labour unrest: Danger zone | The Economist

THE Pearl river delta in the southern province of Guangdong is no stranger to strikes, most of them small and quickly resolved. But a walk-out by workers at factories owned by a Taiwanese company, Yue Yuen, the world’s largest maker of branded sports shoes, including big names such as Nike and Reebok, has been remarkable for its scale and duration. It began on April 5th and has grown to involve tens of thousands of employees. On a sprawling industrial estate, angry workers watched by riot police rage about an issue few cared much about until recently: their pensions. For bosses and officials, this is a worrying sign of change.

The government has imposed a virtual news blackout on the unrest in the city of Dongguan, a place synonymous with the delta’s manufacturing heft (nearly 80% of its 8.3m people have moved there from other parts of China over the past three decades, or are the children of such migrants). Foreign journalists have been allowed onto Yue Yuen’s main estate in Gaobu township, a Dongguan suburb, but strikers complain that Chinese media are kept away. This contrasts with a relatively free rein given to Chinese reporters in 2010 to report on a large strike over pay by workers at a factory owned by Honda in Foshan, another delta city. That incident involved putting pressure on a Japanese company, an uncontroversial target for most Chinese. This latest, bigger strike (one of the largest in years involving a non-state enterprise in China) has touched a more sensitive government nerve.

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The workers accuse Yue Yuen of failing for years to make due contributions to their pensions, which are administered by the local government. Lax application of social-security laws is common, since local authorities do not want to drive away business. “The government is corrupt,” calls out one man among a group of strikers who have gathered near a row of factories. Such comments—directed at local officialdom, not Beijing—are almost as commonly heard as tirades against Yue Yuen itself. Workers fume at the heavy deployment of police, and the beating of some of the thousands of strikers who have been marching through nearby streets, most recently on April 18th (see picture).

Many employees say they are now too afraid to march again. Their protest has become a silent one: they clock in each morning, but then leave the factory and do no work, coming back to clock out when their shift is supposed to end. Workers say all 40,000 employees at Yue Yuen’s seven factories in Gaobu are on strike. A member of Gaobu’s Communist Party committee, Su Huiying, says 40% of them are at work and the rest are only on a “go-slow”. Her assertion appears unconvincing.

A Taiwanese manager at the company says “progress” is being made towards settling the strike. Yue Yuen has offered to make up social-security contributions that it has failed to pay; it has also agreed to start making full contributions from May 1st. But as they listen to repeated broadcasts of the company’s offer through loudspeakers, strikers respond with howls of derision. They also tear up copies of a letter from the government-backed trade union which is mediating in the dispute. The missive calls on workers to go back to work and acknowledge the company’s “sincerity”. “The unions aren’t like the ones in the West,” says one worker. “Here they just represent the government.”

Such anxieties about pension provision among a workforce in Guangdong mostly made up of young migrants may sound surprising. But they are becoming increasingly common as factories try to cope with a growing shortage of young workers from the countryside by retaining employees for longer. Many of Yue Yuen’s workers are in their 30s or even 40s, and many say they have been with the company for a decade or more. Geoffrey Crothall of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin says this has been the largest strike in a non-state factory over social-security payments, but protests over such issues are becoming more common.

via Labour unrest: Danger zone | The Economist.

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21/02/2014

Behind China’s Labor Unrest: Factory Workers and Taxi Drivers – Businessweek

On top of the other article about pessimistic Chinese economists, this is worrying. See https://chindia-alert.org/2014/02/21/even-chinas-economists-are-singing-the-blues-china-real-time-report-wsj/

“What’s the state of dissent among China’s hundreds of millions of workers? They are increasingly aware of and demanding their rights, according to a new report by the China Labor Bulletin.

Workers sew blue jeans in a Chinese textile factory in 2012

There were 1,171 strikes and protests in China recorded by the Hong Kong-based labor advocacy group from June 2011 until the end of last year. Of those, 40 percent occurred among factory workers, as China’s exports suffered a slowdown and its overall economy cooled. “Many manufacturers in China sought to offset their reduced profits by cheating workers out of overtime and cutting back on bonuses and benefits, etc. These cost-cutting tactics proved to be a regular source of conflict with the workforce,” notes the report, “Searching for the Union: The workers’ movement in China 2011-13″ (pdf), which was published on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the report cites a large number of worker protests “caused by the downsizing, closure, relocation, sale or merger of businesses” spurred by the government’s declared policy of tenglong huanniao, or “changing the birds in the cage.” That’s when Beijing has encouraged the closure of factories engaged in lower-tech businesses, including shoes, textiles, and toys. All together, 57 percent of factory worker protests took place in Guangdong, home to the Pearl River Delta manufacturing region, followed by 9 percent in Jiangsu, home to many export factories in the Yangtze River Delta.”

via Behind China’s Labor Unrest: Factory Workers and Taxi Drivers – Businessweek.

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19/05/2013

* Factory women: Girl power

The Economist: “SITTING around a restaurant table, six workers discuss the progress of their labour action. Five of them are women, as are most of their several hundred colleagues who have been occupying the toy factory since mid-April. They have been sleeping on floors, braving rats and mosquitoes, to stop the owner shutting down the factory without giving them fair compensation. Those at the table are all migrants from the countryside. A couple are tearful. All are angry and determined not to give way.

In Guangdong province, where nearly 30% of China’s exports are made, women usually far outnumber men on labour-intensive production lines such as those at the toy factory in the city of Shenzhen, next to Hong Kong. Rural women are hired for their supposed docility, nimble fingers and attention to mind-numbing detail.

 

But in recent years Guangdong’s workforce has changed. The supply of cheap unskilled labour, once seemingly limitless, has started to dry up. Factory bosses are now all but begging their female workers to remain. At the same time the women who have migrated to the factory towns have become better-educated and more aware of their rights. In labour-intensive factories, stereotypes of female passivity are beginning to break down.

Over the past three decades the migration of tens of millions of women from the countryside to factories in Guangdong and other coastal provinces has helped to transform the worldview of an especially downtrodden sector of Chinese society (the suicide rate among rural women is far higher than for rural men). Conditions in the factories have often been harsh—poor safety, illegally long working hours, cramped accommodation, few breaks and little leave—but for many it has also been liberating and empowering, both personally and financially. Leslie Chang, an American journalist, spent three years reporting on women workers in Dongguan, a city near Shenzhen. In her 2008 book “Factory Girls” Ms Chang wrote that, compared with men, the women she encountered were “more motivated to improve themselves and more likely to value migration for its life-changing possibilities.”

They are still not as well-educated as men (about a year less in school on average, with most having only primary- or junior secondary-school education). But the gap has been narrowing.

Crucially, China’s changing demography has been shifting in their favour. Labour shortages that began to hit low-skilled manufacturing in the second half of the past decade have driven up wages and forced factories to improve working conditions. Once all but unthinkable (for both sexes), strikes have become increasingly common. Anecdotally at least, women appear as likely to take part as men.

Strikes in 2010 affecting factories in Guangdong owned by Honda, a Japanese car firm, helped to galvanise labour activism. One of them occurred in the city of Zhongshan, where the workers were mostly female. The unrest there resulted in pay concessions and set a precedent for collective bargaining led by representatives chosen by the workers themselves, rather than government-controlled trade unions. At the Shenzhen toy factory, the workers have chosen five representatives to negotiate with management. Three of them are women. A male worker says the women are more aware of their rights.

China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based NGO, reported on March 19th that about a fifth of strikes in Guangdong since the beginning of the year had been in factories and other workplaces with largely female staff. It said that women were also “some of the most active workers posting information online about strikes and protests, and in seeking out legal assistance for problems at work.” The protesting toy-workers offer evidence of this. They have posted photographs on microblogs of protesting female workers clad in red jackets opposite lines of police. One of their slogans reads: “Bad boss—give us back our youth”.”

via Factory women: Girl power | The Economist.

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