China Labour Quarterly Issue 11
Workplace as battlefield
Chemical poisoning & carcinogens are killing workers quietly
It is often reported that workers suffer from occupational diseases as they have worked in vile working conditions without adequate protective measures. According to the ILO, 6,400 people are killed in industrial accidents or by occupational diseases each day, in other words, each year, occupational hazards cost the lives of 2.3 million workers globally. Such a death toll is compatible to a full-scale war.1 Among the occupational hazards, occupational leukaemia, caused by exposure to toxic chemicals is the second leading killer in China. For example, Zou Xiuhua suffers from leukemia after working less than two years in Johnson Electric’s (HKG 0179) plant in Shenzhen City. Chen, another worker at Qilitian Golf Articles (Shenzhen) Co. shares the same fate, as he has worked with toxic chemicals over a long time.
The marginalization of sick workers in China—an interview with Dr. Ho Wing Chong
The sick workers in China are the most vulnerable group whose life is located outside the “normal” political, economic and cultural practices, and hence is rendered largely silent and unintelligible in the public realm, argued by Dr. Ho Wing Chong1, who has been constantly studying the experiences of Chinese sick workers, in his journal paper which was published in 20142. He pointed out that the sick workers has already uncompetitive in job market and consequently they lost the role as breadwinner for the family. It is as if sick workers are unable to uphold any roles in the society.
Two Important Issues on How to Let Chinese Workers Have Equal Share in Achieving Moderate Prosperity Society
"Moderate prosperity society" is continuously an economic and social development goal of the Chinese government for the next five-yearplan. Premier Li Keqiang made it clear that to attain this goal it is necessary to ensure economic growth, and to " let the people live a better life. Whether the people have a better quality and standard of life is a key indicator of a moderately prosperous society. " In the past years, China has maintained a high growth of gross domestic product (GDP). Only a small number of the population are better off, but most of them do not share the fruit of economic success. Consequently, the disparity between the rich and the poor have been becoming more serious (Gini coefficient rose from 0.29 in 1980 to 0.52 in 2013). At the end of the day, whether the moderate prosperity society benefit a few people or most people? From the perspective of workers, there are two important issues to consider in order to advance the quality of life of worker and to ensure decent work in the thirteenth five-year plan of China.
Global Solidarity from Trade Unions and Labour Organizations Free Detained Chinese Labour Activists Now!
Since 3 December, the authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have carried out a coordinated and wide-ranging crackdown on labour rights activists and labour organizations in the province. More than 25 people from at least four labour organizations have been taken away and questioned by the police. At least seven of them have been criminally detained or currently uncertain whereabouts. Those five who are being put under criminal detention on charges include: Zeng Feiyang, the director of Panyu Workers’ Centre and labour organizer Zhu Xiaomei; labour activist He Xiaobo, who runs a group in Foshan called Nanfeiyan that helps injured workers; Activist Peng Jiayong, the founder of a workers’ self-help group, and another labour activist Deng Xiaoming. The authorities have prevented lawyers from meeting any of the detained. Labour activist Meng Han is being detained at Guangzhou City No. 1 Detention Centre. The police has continued to harass and intimidate the family members and friends of the detained activists and prevented them from giving media interviews.
Turning a blind eye to Hong Kong employers’ violation of social security obligationDeprivation of Regulation on Collective Contracts
On 28 October 2015, the HKCTU and other labour organizations launched a protest at United Centre in Admiralty, to condemn the four major business associations in Hong Kong, which had been connived its members at owing Chinese migrant workers’ pension insurance premiums and forcing the Guangdong Provincial Government to revise its Regulations on Collective Contracts (2015).