Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

University graduate sues education department over white blood cell count discrimination [China Labour Bulletin]

To some extent, this sheds light on the equity dynamic in China; not so much of a one-way street anymore. Citizens can, and have help, to respond to what they deem as discrimination. To learn more, surf onto the ‘Understanding and Challenging Employment Discrimination against People Living with HBV in China‘ report at the Yirenping (益仁平) website.

To add to the case in point, – ‘People with HIV/AIDS have also been refused employment but at least two victims of discrimination have now successfully filed lawsuits against their prospective employer.’

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University graduate sues education department over white blood cell count discrimination
Source – China Labour Bulletin, published March 17, 2011

A court in Yiwu, Zhejiang, has agreed to hear China’s first ever lawsuit against an employer for refusing to hire a prospective employee on the grounds of their white blood cell count, the Legal Daily reported 14 March.

The lawsuit, filed by a Ningbo University graduate, accuses the Yiwu municipal education and labour departments of denying him a job as a high school mathematics teacher because his medical examination indicated an abnormally high white blood cell count.

It is unclear precisely why the Yiwu education department would consider a high white blood cell count to be grounds for refusing employment but as other anti-discrimination lawsuits have shown, the medical knowledge of many employers is limited, and usually informed by rumour and false advertising rather than fact. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: China Labour Bulletin, Culture, Domestic Growth, Human Rights, People, Population, Social

Plight of the migrant worker [Straits Times]

Singapore is the second most popular location for Chinese migrant workers for obvious reasons. Here they make a salary at least five times of what they would back home, and being the only place outside of China and Taiwan where there is a Chinese majority, it makes sense for them to come here.

Whilst many return home prosperous, a growing number suffer from ‘‘rampant’ abuses: salaries and jobs different from those promised; 24-hour shifts; unauthorised salary deductions and ‘miscellaneous’ payments; and poor accommodation.’ This report pinpoints the source of some of the problems – for one, that the Chinese workers are quite often employed by Chinese state-owned companies with practices that contravene Singapore’s labour regulations.

Also pertinent is the acknowledgement that whilst China is primarily known as the world’s factory – it is also the world’s largest exporter of labour cheap labour with more the 800,000 diasporic Chinese workers in 190 countries.

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Plight of the migrant worker
MADE IN CHINA: S’pore woes start at home
By Sim Chi Yin, For The Straits Times
Source – Straits Times, published February 21, 2011

Mr Zhu Baonian, 31, from China, has found that the terms of his employment are not what he was promised. He is now awaiting compensation for a workplace accident. -- ST PHOTO: SIM CHI YIN

BEIJING/SINGAPORE: When welder Zhu Baonian packed his bags and boarded a plane for the very first time, he dreamt of earning three times more in pay when he got to Singapore.

But the 31-year-old got a reality check almost as soon as he landed in the ‘garden city’ he had heard so many good things about: The construction job was not what he had signed up for, he would get less than the $1,700 monthly pay his Chinese labour agent had promised, and he had to surrender all but $200 of his salary for the first three months as a ‘security deposit’.

While many Chinese workers go home with plump savings and pleasant experiences after working in Singapore, others face a range of problems, say two new research reports. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, China Labour Bulletin, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Greater China, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Migrant Workers, Singapore, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

China’s work-related injury rehabilitation centres lie empty [China Labour Bulletin]

The China Labour Bulletin casts a spotlight on the ‘experimental stage’ of China’s work-related injury rehab centres. This piece argues that the centres lay largely empty; a disconnect from their true purpose (Many workers fear that if they press the boss to pay for their rehabilitation treatment, it could jeopardize their chances of getting additional compensation), and it raises the question of all this is simply a gigantic people’s diplomacy exercise.

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China’s work-related injury rehabilitation centres lie empty
Source – China Labour Bulletin, published 25 Jan 2011

There are well over a million work-related injuries in China every year, yet many of the government’s newly established rehabilitation centres lie empty because poorly-paid migrant workers, who are the main victims of accidents, are either unaware of their existence or simply cannot get in.

The China Daily reported today that a rehabilitation centre in the northeastern province of Liaoning had not received a single patient since it opened in December. “Without clear financial grounds, we can’t receive workers,” a centre official told the newspaper.

In order to get treatment at a work-related injury rehabilitation centre (工伤康复中心), workers need to have work-related injury insurance. However the vast majority of migrant workers do not have insurance; even official government figures put the coverage rate at just 24 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Charm Offensive, China Labour Bulletin, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Environment, Human Rights, Migrant Workers, People, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social

Mongolian herders lose land and livelihood in state farm sell-off [China Labour Bulletin]

This give voice to the lives less significant in the ‘getting rich’ mindset. I have seen corruption single-handedly damage the potential my ancestral home in China had, what more the autonomous regions? I have seen socialism and its co-operatives work well in Hangzhou, and where it worked poorly in Chaozhou – I think problems like this keep occurring because the locals are seldom put in charge and feel little for their charges (this mindset of the Chinese can be hard to change because of the many lessons they have learnt from history). In any case, this is something China needs to address as it has been already a systemic fault-line for a long time.

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Mongolian herders lose land and livelihood in state farm sell-off
Han Dongfang
Source – China Labour Bulletin, published November 8, 2010

The vast majority of farmland in China is effectively owned and run by individual households under the contract responsibility system, developed and implemented in the early 1980s. In the northern regions of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang however, much of the land has remained under the control of large-scale state farms, which are managed in a similar way to state-owned enterprises, with farm workers receiving a salary, pensions and other welfare benefits.

The Sha Wozi Ranch in Inner Mongolia was originally a horse-breeding facility set up by the military in the early 1970s, and administered by an army unit in Beijing. It later became a state farm with thousands of employees, each of whom was allocated a smallholding in two arable and three grazing units. However, over the last decade, hundreds of those agricultural workers lost their allocated landholdings as profit-hungry managers sold off pasture to other farmers and investors, leading to serious over-grazing and desertification.

The workers petitioned the government but got nothing and were in turn persecuted and harassed by local officials. One of their representatives was detained for several months and eventually had to flee to a secret location in Beijing to escape further retribution. From there she talked to CLB Director Han Dongfang anonymously about the appropriation of the Sha Wozi workers’ land and their fight for justice. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, China Labour Bulletin, Chinese Model, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, People, Politics, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

The strike that ignited China’s summer of worker protests [China Labor Bulletin]

“None of us understand the law very well, and they say our strike is against the law. But no one is afraid, and is saying, if it’s illegal, then it’s illegal. You can fire us all if you like; if you fire us all, your entire production will stop…” Rewind a few months and the series of strikes in China’s coastal production line, and most people outside China remain surprised; with the open myopic view, “Can that happen in an authoritarian regime?”

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The strike that ignited China’s summer of worker protests
Source – China Labor Bulletin, published September 15, 2010

In May and early June 2010, a two-week-long strike involving more than a thousand workers at the Honda transmission plant in Foshan triggered a wave of strikes across China.

The dispute highlighted the long hours and low pay of Chinese workers, and their growing determination to stand and fight for a decent wage. And in particular, it brought into sharp focus the ambiguous role the trade union in labour conflicts. Not only did the factory union and the local union federations in Foshan fail to represent workers’ interests, or even talk to the workers during the initial stages of the strike, the local township federation actually gathered a mob of so-called union officials to force the strikers back to work, injuring two of the workers in the process.

On 1 June, the day after the clash, CLB Director Han Dongfang telephoned one of the workers at the factory to get an update on the strike situation and to discuss the strikers’ demands and negotiation strategy, and the actions of the union. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: China Labour Bulletin, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, People, Population, Social, Trade

Chinese university students investigate life on the factory floor [China Labour Bulletin]

The great thing about Hong Kong is, despite being under Chinese rule again, it has bandwidth to maintain its press freedoms. This is worth a read if you are interested in an investigation into life in China’s factory floors, and not the fleeting press reports that only cover the marco details. It raises questions on the interconnectedness of the global production networks, and a strong look at the Chinese psyche – have they softened? After all, their parents would have survived far worse – the Civil War, the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward combined.

“…The shift was 12 hours long nearly every day. Once you started, you hardly dared to think about the drudgery, but after you got into it, you found that you simply did not have time to let your mind wander. You were a machine. You just worked, and your brain did not need to be engaged at all, you just needed to carry out the same action repeatedly. That was all that was required.”

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Chinese university students investigate life on the factory floor
Source – China Labour Bulletin, published July 21, 2010

Chinese university students investigate life on the factory floor
During this year’s summer break, three students went “undercover” as migrant workers at a small shoe factory in Dongguan’s Houjie township. Their report, widely circulated in various forms on the Internet in China, details the pay and conditions of employees, the attitude of migrant workers towards employer abuses and their awareness of the law. It shows how the students tried to “raise the consciousness” of the young migrant workers at the factory and their frustration at their lack of success. The report also looks at the conditions at larger factories in the Pearl River Delta that pay more but also demand more from workers, and discusses the options available now to the younger generation of migrant workers, compared with their parents.

The essay reveals as much about the attitudes and values of young socially concerned urban intellectuals as it does about the subjects of their report, and as such provides insights into the 90s generation at either end of the social scale.

China Labour Bulletin has translated and edited Random Thoughts on Factory Life below. The original Chinese language report can be read here. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, China Labour Bulletin, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Foxconn Suicides 2010, Honda Strike in Foshan 2010, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Media, Population, Social, The Chinese Identity, Trade

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