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China: Rights to strike

Since the beginning of 2010, a wave of worker strikes has appeared in China, to the extent that western mainstream media, such as the Financial Times has recognized the emergence of a new labour movement. Recently, the Chinese workers have even exercised their labour rights in Russia.

According to RIA Novosti, more than 150 Chinese workers have gone on a strike over unpaid salaries for construction work done on infrastructure for the 2012 APEC summit in Russia on 13-14 September.

Feng Shanzhi from Mil Forum noticed the news and criticized the Russia government for sending military police to suppress the strike. However, many comments disagreed with the writer:

sunnyrain: 你在国内罢共产党的工试试?普京够仁慈的了。

翅膀:资本主义国家的外交政策都不是国际主义,都只讲利益.就跟我们现在现实中人与人之间的关系是一样的.
所以在资本主义世界里,只有共同的利益,没有坚固的朋友.这点是必然.
他们是不能体会国际主义的.也不知道国际主义的伟大.所以时常咒骂毛主席援助非洲等国家.却不知道到今天我们还因彼受着许多益处.
而且资产阶级对工人罢工这样的事,只会越来越强硬,而且手段也越来越高.威逼利诱,忽悠分化.无论在哪个资本主义国家都是这样.
说到底,全世界的资产阶级联合起来了。可是无产阶级还没觉醒.

sunnyrain: You can try striking against the Chinese Communist Party, Vladimir Putin is comparatively kind already.

翅膀: The diplomatic policy of capitalist countries is not internationalism. They only care about interest, similar to our everyday life relationships. That's why in a capitalist world, countries only have common interest, but no long term friendship. This is unavoidable.

They have no understanding of internationalism, neither do they know the greatness of this concept. They often cursed Chairman Mao for helping Africa back then, without knowing that we benefited a lot today from helping those poor countries.

Moreover, capitalists will be increasingly hard-handed on strikes, and they know how to use tricks and conspiracies. The world of capitalists has been united, but the proletarians have yet to be awakened.

Although the above comment is rather ideological, many supporters of labour rights do believe that the poor labour condition in China is a result of the exploitation from multinational corporates. For example, Qianhong, a well-known commentator criticized Goldman Sachs China representative's opinion on worker strikes:

这些资本代言人担忧什么呢?不就是跨国资本在中国劳动力产品低成本、低价优势的丧失,而以投资重点投向印度、越南、印度尼西亚、巴西等地相要挟,阻遏中国劳动生产率、产品价值和整个社会产出消费价值提升吗?!

What does the representative of capital worry about? It is all about multinational corporates’ interest in low labour cost. They threaten to invest in other countries such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil to suppress the increase of labour productivity rate and produce value.

明眼人谁都知道,“提高工资,可能会使得一些纯粹成本导向盈利的企业转移生产基地”,但是,也会使得一大部分底层劳动者的消费能力增加,进而增加国内消费市场的容量…

People with a clear mind know that increasing the salary will lead to the relocation of production line in sector that extract profit from the production cost. However, the policy will also stimulate the consumption power of working class and strengthen the internal consumption market…

Similar to many labour rights activists and scholars, Qianhong called for a constitutional amendment to protect the right to strike:

如果中国工人的维权举措,必须在“跳楼”或“罢工”之间作非此即彼的选择,那么,滾滾诸公,行行好,还是让他们享有“罢工维权”的自由和尊严吧!

与时俱进的口号,在中国已经喊快二十年了,从1982年到未来2012年正好三十年了,中国共产党18大也将在这一年召开。中国工人的罢工自由这一条,再也不能在中华人民共和国宪法中堂皇缺位了,中国该修宪了!

If the Chinese workers have to choose between “committing suicide” and “strike” in order to protect their rights, please be a moral person and let them enjoy their rights to strike, please let them live respectfully!

The slogan “progress with the time” has been uphold in China for 20 years. The open door policy (1982-2012) is approaching its 30 year anniversary and the 18th National Congress of CCP will take place in 2012. The rights and freedom to strike should not be missing in the constitution of PRC. It is about time for China to amend its constitution.

After the Honda Strike earlier in June, many people are quite optimistic that labour strike will soon become a proper way for Chinese workers to improve their working conditions. Lin Da Min notice that mainstream media has started to use the term “Strike” (罢工) in their reports:

由于种种因素,一直以来,“罢工”只是个历史名词和法律名词。现实中,对于工人这一争取权益的方式,别说少有发生,就是有,类似出租车司机罢工,也往往以“集 体喝下午茶”这样的奇怪方式表达,至多是一个听起来温柔一些的“罢运”。事实上,媒体在关注本田中国工人罢工一事上,也有微妙之处。比如,本田中国员工 “走向操场”、“停工”……在些许犹豫之后,“罢工”一词终于出现在新闻报道和标题里。这是一个进步的信号。

Due to various reasons, the word “strike” has always been used in historical and legal documents. In reality, even if there are workers who strive for their rights and interests, like a cab drivers strike, it would be expressed in subtle terms, such as “they hold an afternoon tea party” or “refuse to drive”. As a matter of fact, media first used “marching to the playground”, “factory stopped operation” to describe the Honda workers strike. After certain hesitation and discretion, they started to use “strike” in newspaper headlines. This is a sign of progress.

However, such optimism may come too soon. The word “strike” remains a politically sensitive term. It is censored and filtered away in major search engines. Below shows the screen capture of the search result of “strike” (罢工) in Baidu Tieba (an automatic generated forum). The note says: “I am sorry, according to existing regulation and law, this forum cannot be opened”. Similar notice appeared in all major web portals.

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