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Dagongzhe Migrant Workers’ Centre fights on despite violent attack

Dec 15, 2009

It has been two years since labor activist Huang Qingnan almost lost his leg to a machete attack on 20 November 2007. The founder and registered person of the Dagongzhe Migrant Worker Centre in Shenzhen was attacked in broad daylight for his work educating migrant workers about their legal rights and assisting them take their disputes to court. Chinese labor rights NGOs in Shenzhen are accustomed to administrative repression, but this violent attack was a frightening escalation of the threat to worker activists.

In CLNT’s 6 December 2007 issue we worried that the attack might be the start of escalating violence against labor NGOs http://www.clntranslations.org/article/26/shenzhen-labor-activist-attacked . We are pleased to report that the violence has not run rampart in the last two years.

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The Wenling Model: an experiment in trade-wide collective bargaining

Oct 21, 2009

Much is written about the trade union in China, but how much do we know about how it actually operates inside workplaces, and how it negotiates with private enterprises over wages and conditions for workers? The Wal-Mart company-wide collective bargaining agreement was one such insight into the All China Federation of Trades Union’s (ACFTU) approach to collective bargaining. But as CLNT has documented in the posting of May 2009 it was not much more than a window-dressing exercise. (1) Meanwhile, for several years now, the ACFTU has been up-holding another county-level trade-wide collective bargaining model — the Wenling model of “collective wage consultation”, from Zhejiang province. How did the model emerge and what is its significance and implication for Chinese industrial relations? This issue of CLNT seeks to answer these questions. We have translated two Chinese newspaper reports, which discuss how this experiment in collective wage consultation came about, and evaluate the success of the model with reference to the experiences of trade union and government cadre, industry players and worker representatives involved.

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Chinese students go undercover to investigate Coca Cola

Sep 16, 2009

Student beaten by manager when he asked for his wages

CLNT editorial: 16 September 2009

In this issue of CLNT, instead of providing a translated article as usual, we bring you the latest news from an unusual and groundbreaking campaign by mainland Chinese student activists, in support of workers at Coca Cola bottling plants. In August 2008, students from several mainland Chinese universities established a Student Coca-Cola Campaign Team (blog in Chinese: http://followcoca.blog.163.com/). Their purpose was to contribute to improving the working conditions of dispatch workers at Coca Cola bottling plants in China. Their method was to take jobs as ordinary workers, and to collect data based on their direct experience, with the goal of publicizing any labor abuses they encountered. In mid-2009, the student campaign team followed up with a second round of undercover factory investigations. Unfortunately, a student was beaten up by two managers of the labor dispatch company that hired him, when he resigned his job and asked for payment of outstanding wages for himself and two fellow workers. Now Hong Kong-based NGO Students and Scholars Against Misbehavior (SACOM) has launched an international campaign in support of the students, demanding that Coca Cola improve working conditions for dispatch workers in its bottling plants, and pay the medical expenses incurred by the injured student.

The students did not choose to focus on Coca-Cola because it was a “foreign company” or because it was the worst exploiter of dispatched labor. However, like students who have campaigned against corporate abuses in other countries, they knew that the unique Coke brand gave Coca-Cola visibility and made it potentially vulnerable to public pressure. Also, as large employers, Coca-Cola and its subsidiaries have an important influence on industrial relations standards in China.

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CLNT Coca Cola editorial

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The “Migrant Worker Commander”: Zhang Quanshou and the Quanshun Labor Dispatch Company

Jul 23, 2009

In this issue of CLNT we address the increasing use of labour dispatch in China, with particular focus on the unusual case of a company called Quanshun. Former migrant-workers-turned-entrepreneur Zhang Quanshou has been hailed in the Chinese media, for pioneering a new model of labour dispatch supposed to be a win-win for workers and employers alike. Quanshun dispatches workers on-demand, to meet the fluctuating needs of manufacturing enterprises. When workers are no longer needed, Quanshun takes them back and provide them with food, board and a daily living allowance until they are assigned to a new job. Not only has Zhang Quanshou made a personal fortune out of his Quanshun model, but he is so highly regarded by government that he has been elected a delegate to the National People’s Congress. He is affectionately known as the “migrant worker commander” for the tight discipline he maintains amongst his work force. This issue of CLNT will examine the increasing use of dispatch labor in China, and challenge the very positive spin put on the Quanshou model by mainland Chinese media.

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The dismissal of union chair Liu Yongyi from the Guangdong Federation of Trade Union’s own hotel building

Jun 16, 2009

In this short installment of China Labor News Translations, we bring you the story of the dismissal of union chair from a hotel building owned by the Guangdong Federation of Trade Unions (GDFTU). This profoundly ironic and deeply troubling story exploded in the Guangzhou media last month, and in addition to some excellent reporting, there have been a number of high quality op-ed pieces harshly criticizing the behavior of hotel management and the trade union.

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