When Chinese Labor Strikes
China on Strike

Slaughter, Jane

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/11/2016
Year Published:  2016  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21504

Book review of Hao Ren's edited volume China on Strike.



The editors draw lessons for their Chinese readers. Some would seem a bit obvious to a seasoned U.S unionist - "choose representatives among the workers from each department, section, work team." But the intended reader here is the potential leader of green Chinese workers who might say things like, "With no previous experience, I didn't know it was a 'strike,' and just thought we would stop work."

Other lessons are those that many American unions have yet to learn. How many unions here have acceded to management's insistence on negotiating only when the union stops exerting pressure - "go back to work and we'll talk"?

A young woman named Xiao Lan, who worked in a Shenzhen phone factory, learned the hard way that strikers "shouldn't disperse but should instead gather together and continue to exert collective pressure during negotiations." At her plant, two to three thousand workers marched away from the factory toward the labor bureau over low overtime pay, too much overtime, poor food, and no hot water in the dorms. But after they chose bargaining representatives, the strikers scattered, and management came back with a pay increase that was eaten up by newly imposed deductions.
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