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Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:21 AM

 

China's rising labor movement

The Chinese working class plays a Janus-like role in the political imaginary of neoliberalism. On the one hand, it’s imagined as the competitive victor of capitalist globalization, the conquering juggernaut whose rise spells defeat for the working classes of the rich world...At the same time, Chinese workers are depicted as the pitiable victims of globalization...By depicting Chinese workers as Others – as abject subalterns or competitive antagonists – this tableau wildly miscasts the reality of labor in today’s China.

Today, the Chinese working class is fighting. More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place.

More importantly, workers are winning, with many strikers capturing large wage increases above and beyond any legal requirements. Worker resistance has been a serious problem for the Chinese state and capital and, as in the United States in the 1930s, the central government has found itself forced to pass a raft of labor legislation..Strikes generally begin with workers putting down their tools and staying inside the factory...When faced with recalcitrant management, workers sometimes escalate by heading to the streets...Even more risky, and yet still common, is for workers to engage in sabotage and property destruction, riot, murder their bosses, and physically confront the police.


But the least spectacular item in this catalog of resistance forms the essential backdrop to all the others: migrants, increasingly, have simply been refusing to take the bad jobs they used to flock to in the export processing zones of the southeast. A labor shortage first arose in 2004, and in a nation that still has more than 700 million rural residents, most assumed it to be a short-term fluke. Eight years later, there is clearly a structural shift taking place...a large swath of manufacturers in coastal provinces such as Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu has not been able to attract and retain workers...

Capital, meanwhile, has relied on several tried-and-true methods to prop up profitability. Within the factory, the biggest development of the past few years is one that will be drearily familiar to workers in the US, Europe, or Japan: the explosive growth of various kinds of precarious labor, including temps, student interns, and, most importantly, “dispatch workers...”
But the big story in recent years has been the relocation of industrial capital from the coastal regions into central and western China...This, too, is a familiar story of capitalism: the labor historian Jefferson Cowie identified a similar process at work in his history of electronics manufacturer rca’s “seventy-year quest for cheap labor” – a quest that took the company from New Jersey to Indiana to Tennessee, and finally to Mexico...

http://jacobinmag.com/2012/08/china-in-revolt/

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Reply China's rising labor movement (Original post)
HiPointDem Jan 2013 OP
pampango Jan 2013 #1
starroute Jan 2013 #2
Uncle Joe Jan 2013 #3
Locrian Jan 2013 #4

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:10 AM

1. Nice article about labor unrest in China. "working class if fighting...and winning..."

Today, the Chinese working class is fighting. More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place.

More importantly, workers are winning, with many strikers capturing large wage increases above and beyond any legal requirements. Worker resistance has been a serious problem for the Chinese state and capital and, as in the United States in the 1930s, the central government has found itself forced to pass a raft of labor legislation. Minimum wages are going up by double digits in cities around the country and many workers are receiving social insurance payments for the first time.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:44 AM

2. Next thing you know, the workers will be taking up Marxism

And what will they do then?

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:31 AM

3. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, HiPointDem.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:12 PM

4. currently reading Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"

Currently reading Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" - history repeating itself...

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