China Labour Quarterly Issue 17
Eviction of “Low-end Population”:
the Great Leap Forward of Xi Jin-ping’s “New Era”
In the previous winter, Cai Qi, the new secretary of Beijing municipal communist party, forcefully launched three controversial policies in order to build an unprecedented “New Beijing”. These policies not only exposed the rashness of administration of the Xi Jin-ping regime, but also revealed the discrimination of municipal management against grassroots workers in China’s “new era”.
Factory Automation = The Doom of Workers' Bargaining Power?
As automation of production is becoming an alternative solution for labour intensive industries to reduce labour cost, many workers lose their jobs as a result. Surprisingly, resistance from the workers was almost non-existence over the past 3 years regarding the issue. Wong Yu, a postdoctoral researcher in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, had been studying the impact of Dongguan's automation policy since 2014 and shared with us her insights on the issue.
Disregard in Occupational Safety and Health Protection Continues to Haunt Chinese Workers
Occupational safety and health (OSH) of migrant workers has been a concern in the past years. In January 2017, a Chinese organization “Cocultivation Social Work Service Centre” released a research report, based on 1,410 visit reports of injured / sick workers compiled in 2016. Researchers visited victims of occupational hazards in 28 hospitals in Dongguan City over a span of 130 days in 2016, and revisited 80% of the workers to look into their background, labour conditions, rehabilitation and other aspects. The findings of this research are then put into this report.
Challenge to Monitor Labour Conditions as Business-Government Collusion Assaults Civil Society
Since 2014, HKCTU has been observing the operation of Hong Kong-invested enterprises in China closely. To expose the labour exploitations and the related collective actions in these enterprises, HKCTU released two “Monitoring Report on Collective Labour Disputes of Hong Kong Enterprises in China” (hereafter: Monitoring Report) in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The project continued in 2017 and on 29 December, the latest Monitoring Report was released. It does not cover only the Hong Kong listed companies' investment in China, but also the repression of civil society and the development of labour movement in China in the past years.
Building Alliance Between Civil Societies in Opposing Authoritarian Hegemony
On 1 January 2017, the Law on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China (the Foreign NGOs Law) became officially effective, marking the winter of the developing civil society in mainland China. However, regulation on overseas civil organizations is not unique to China. Worldwide, a number of countries have similar regulations and some have been in place for years, and respective civil societies have accumulated experiences in dealing with such monitoring and regulation. Their experiences in coping with monitoring and regulation from the government are valuable references to civil society in mainland China. In view of this, the HKCTU, together with the City University of Hong Kong, organized an international seminar on global development trends of civil societies. Representatives of civil societies and trade unions from 8 countries were invited to have exchanges with local and mainland China civil societies. Participants learned from each other and inquired future directions for the movement.
Volkswagen dispatch workers Struggle Continues, Hong Kong NGOs Demand Release on Workers’ Leaders
On 15 December 2017, the HKCTU, in collaboration with other labour organisations in Hong Kong, protested in the Volkswagen showroom in Wanchai for the unequal treatment between the dispatched workers and direct employees in Changchun factory and urge for the release on Fu Tien-bo, the workers representative in the factory. In the end of 2016, the dispatch workers in the Changchun factory were protesting for the unequal treatment as they have only half of the wages compare with the direct employees but most of them had worked there for more than 10 years. According to the Labour Contract Law in China, the dispatch workers must enjoy the same treatments as the directly employed workers. Also dispatched workers must be directly employed after 3 renewal on its contract. In that sense, the company were suspected for violating multiple labour laws. The protesters entered the showroom and ask the company to assign a representative to receive the petition letter, but the company did not receive the letter.