Strikes spread across China
Waves of wildcat strikes continue to spread across China's industrial heartland. More than 200 workers at a Singapore-owned electronics plant in Shanghai remained on strike for a third day Dec. 2 to protest a management plan for mass layoffs and a plant relocation. Blue-jacketed workers, chanting slogans and holding banners demanding management accountability, blocked the entrance to the factory owned by Hi-P International, whose customers include Apple and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion. (Reuters, Dec. 2)
More than 100 workers in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, blockaded a Tesco retail chain outlet preventing shoppers from entering, in a dispute over wages. Some held a banner reading: "We want to protect our rights. Return our blood and sweat money." The Tesco is slated to close in coming weeks, and workers fear it will do so before long-owed back wages are paid. (The Guardian, Nov. 30)
In recent weeks, thousands of workers in the industrial southern provinces have walked of the job—at plants producing New Balance shoes, Apple and IBM keyboards, underwear, furniture, and Japanese Citizen watches. Workers at the watch-making subcontractor in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, launched a 13-day strike to demand back pay stretching back seven years—despite the legal requirement that such claims could go back only two years. Refusing to include the official union in negotiations, 586 workers signed a petition giving their power of representation to an activist labor lawyer. The collective bargaining that resolved the strike included a workers' committee at the table, winning in deep concessions by the employer.
Protesting the government's failure to boost wages as promised, municipal street cleaners in Nanjing on Nov. 16 collected garbage on their normal routes—and then piled it high on busy city streets, obstructing pedestrian and car traffic. And in a highly unusual coordinated campaign, Pepsi bottling workers in five cities all took a day off Nov. 14 to protest the sale of their plants to a Taiwanese company. Workers launched an online campaign to bring in all 20,000 workers from 24 Pepsi bottling plants in China. (Labor Notes, Dec. 2; LAT, Nov. 28; Shanghaiist, Nov. 17; Xinhua, Oct. 24)