Strikes and suicides by Chinese workers

The suicides at Foxconn and the strike at Honda’s components factory in Foshan have focused almost unprecedented international media attention on the plight of China’s workers. Commentators have asked why are workers taking such drastic action, are we seeing an upsurge in worker activism, and if so could that threaten social and political stability in China?

China Labour Bulletin executive director Han Dongfang addressed these questions in a video interview with the Financial Times, and made the point that strikes and protests are inevitable when wages are too low and workers lack formal channels through which they can express their demands. These strikes and protests however should not be seen as a threat to the government, he said, but simply a manifestation of China’s workers’ determination to stand up for their own interests.

China Labour Bulletin communications director Geoffrey Crothall argued further in the South China Morning Post that the events at Honda and Foxconn demonstrated the need for genuinely representative trade unions in China that could present workers’ demands for higher pay during scheduled, peaceful and equal negotiations with management.


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