The number of strikes and protests are increasing in China, and the countries communist rulers do not seem to know what to do. So far their main approach to the growing problem has been the usual one - ordering the country´s wast security machinery to clamp down on the protesters by using force. The corrupted ruling elite may succeed in this for a while, but when the number of protests keeps growing, the likelyhood that the rulers will find "a complete mechanism for social management,” is not very great .....
Tens of thousands of factory workers in southern Guangdong province employed in the footwear, garment, watchmaking, furniture and electronics industries have taken strike action in recent weeks. Public and municipal sector workers have also taken strike action in Nanjing (public sanitation workers) and Shanghai (public hospital staff). In the Sichuan capital, Chengdu, several hundred state-owned enterprise (SOE) workers staged a three-day (28-30 November) sit-in protest over a share distribution plan following privatisation of the factory.
Around 100 staff blocked and barricaded a supermarket owned by British chain Tesco in the Zhejiang city of Jinhua. The store is to close and workers are fighting for unpaid wages. Bus drivers and taxi drivers have been involved in separate stoppages over low pay and unfair competition in Shandong, Hainan and Guangxi provinces.
Some recent strikes “showed a new level of sophistication” according to Geoffrey Crothall, a commentator for the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin. A good example of this is the coordinated one-day strike by several thousand workers at five of PepsiCo’s 24 plants. The workers – at factories in Chongqing, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Lanzhou and Nanchang – protested last month at PepsiCo’s decision to sell its China arm to Taiwanese-owned Tingyi, fearing that existing terms and conditions of work will be undermined by the deal.
PepsiCo workers made use of weibo micro-blogging sites to publicise their dispute, again underlining a high degree of planning and coordination, which is sorely needed in the struggle for workers’ rights in China. So afraid were the authorities of this example, that ‘Pepsi’ was added to the list of blocked words on internet search engines.
Police and local government officials have generally taken a tough line towards recent disputes, as in the case of the Hi-P strike in Shanghai. Ten workers at the huge Yucheng shoe factory in Dongguan were injured when police cracked down on a protest march involving thousands last month (see: Upsurge of strikes in southern China).
The recent upturn in strikes has sounded alarm bells within the summits of the ‘communist’ dictatorship. Zhou Yongkang, China’s top security official, warned earlier this week about the spectre of social unrest arising due to the state of the economy.
“Especially when facing the negative effects of the market economy, we still have not formed a complete mechanism for social management,” Zhou said. How to do so, he said, “is the great and urgent task before us.”
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(The site is not exactly my cup of tea, but on this subject I think their reporting is sound)