More protests in China – Jan 4 2009
There have been further protests by workers in China as the economic crisis prompts attacks on conditions, jobs and pay.
On December 28th ground crew at Hong Kong’s international airport walked out in a three-hour protest against cuts to announced bonus payments, grounding flights. The 1,000 workers were employed by Hong Kong Airport Services Ltd. The economic crisis was cited as the reason for the attampted clawbacks by company bosses.
Riot police monitored a protest outside a textile factory in Humen town, Dongguan, on the 29th of December. The protest followed a chef in the factory canteen being “worked to death” after being on shift for 10 days straight. His family and co-workers objected to the pitiful compensation payment offered by factory bosses and the department of labour, and organised the demonstration. Despite the riot police arriving, the local police attempted to play down the size of the protest in the media, adding nonetheless that “In an economic crisis, such cases happens frequently.”
Dongguan saw more protests earlier in December, after workers at the Jianrong Suitcase Factory took to the streets demanding payment of wages after the factory owner shut the factory and fled, an increasingly common event in the city. The workers, who live in dorms inside the factory site, refused to leave after the government offered only 60% of what they were owed. The compound was surrounded by riot police, who attacked the workers when they left the site to protest on the streets. Nonetheless, they managed to resist attempts by riot police to take the site, and saw off an undercover policeman who infiltrated the dormitories.
According to an Associated Press report, one worker, called Yang, asked “We work so hard in this factory and then we get beaten by the police. What kind of system is this?” Worn out by the siege, the workers have now left the site. Dongguan has been rocked by protests as the economic crisis hits its export-led manufacturing industry, and workers attempt to defend themselves against pay cuts, layoffs and the effects of factory owners cutting and running. For news reports on these events, see
Workers in Shanghai also staged an occupation in early December, reported here: http://libcom.org/news/1000-workers-stage-sit-chinese-factory-09122008
MORE: China faces wave of unrest in 2009 President Hu Jintao has vowed to make China a “harmonious society,” but his promise is being tested by rising tension over shrinking jobs and incomes, as well as long-standing anger over corruption and land seizures. Last year, 30,000 residents of a town in southwest China watched and cheered as rioters torched and trashed government and police buildings after the alleged government cover-up of a murder.
China also faces a year of politically tense anniversaries, especially the 20th year since the June 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. That date has already galvanised the “Charter 08” campaign by dissidents and advocates demanding deep democratic reforms. http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKTRE5050FE20090106?sp=true
Condition of the working classes in China
An Interview with Yan Yuanzhang by Stephen Philion (Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Cloud State University) who researches the impact of privatization on Chinese workers. Philion received his doctorate in April 2004. The first chapter of his dissertation “The Discourse of Workers Democracy as a Terrain of Ideological Struggle in the Moment of Transition from State Socialism in China” is available at . Yan Yuanzhang is a pseudonym used to protect the interviewee’s identity from the Chinese government’s scrutiny.
On February 22nd, 2006 the Chinese government shut down the China Workers’ Website and Discussion List the first leftist-run website in China that enabled workers and farmers to talk about their struggles to defend socialism in today’s China was shut down.