Realizing Their Rights- Growth of Chinese Worker Power

Lately, we’ve been inundated with news about factories all around China and their striking workers. I have found three sources from three different countries. These are The New York Times from the US, The Financial Times from the UK, and The Globe and Mail from Canada.  Excerpted below are portions of articles that are compelling–

For almost two decades very rapid economic growth has been possible partly because of the mass migration of young people from rural areas to the towns driving urbanization and industrialization. But this spring of youth escaping rural drudgery is drying up. The Honda strikers, like the Foxconn suicides, are mostly in their 20s. There is an instinctive realization among them that there is a diminishing number of youths to follow their migrant footsteps. – “China’s Dwindling Resource,” Phillip Bowring

Unlike the first wave of migrants who came to the cities in the 1980s and 1990s, the current batch has more options and higher aspirations. Many are not content to save money for a few years before returning home. They want to settle in the booming cities. That means they need higher wages. If they can’t get them, there are opportunities at home. –Change is finally afoot for China’s workers,” David Pilling

“Workers’ bargaining power is rising as the labour market tightens,” Patrick Lawrence of research firm GaveKal- Dragonomics wrote in a recent report to clients highlighting inflationary pressures in the Chinese economy. The wage increases “remind us that labour tensions are set to become a much bigger issue over the next few years as workers fight for larger paycheques and improved working conditions,” Mr. Lawrence added. –China’s low-cost workers have richer days ahead,” Andy Hoffman

This is a great step forward (not to be confused with a leap) for the Chinese worker. They are not satisfied with what they got before—the workers now want more. With fewer workers in the labor pool, the workers are in a better position to bargain for better working conditions and higher wages. The outlook seems fair enough where workers in China can hope for higher pay and better rights.


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