China: Eight strikes a day for the first six months of the year

The China Labour Bulletin publishes data on protests and social unrest in the world of work: an increase of 18.6% over last year, despite government attempts to stabilize the economy.

 


Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Despite some signs of stabilization, the Chinese economy continues to produce strikes and protests by workers over their conditions and market injustice in all domestic provinces. 

In the first six months of this year there were on average eight strikes (or violent protests) per day, mostly related to problems of arrears in wages or social welfare payments. This is what emerges from the data collected in the first half of 2016 by the China Labour Bulletin (CLB), an independent trade union which is based in Hong Kong but also operates in mainland China.

The numbers show an increase in social unrest over the previous year. In the first half of 2015, 1,224 complaints were registered against 1,454 for the current year, an increase of 18.6%. It should also be pointed out, as does the CLB, that the data is partial as it is almost impossible to cover the entire national area. The Chinese government does not allow the creation of independent trade unions and tries to prevent all coordinated social activity involving the world of work.

40% of the total of the protests involved the construction sector, although it should be noted that traditionally the Lunar New Year - which falls between January and February - is a period of great instability for the industry. Migrant workers demand back pay to be able to go home, and often the insolvency of employers provokes clashes and violence.

The miners' strikes have nearly doubled, from 41 in 2015 to 74 recorded so far, while those in the manufacturing sector declined slightly, from 363 (2015) to 356 (2016). 55% of the protests in the industrial sector occurred in the four coastal provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shandong: these were once the "engine" of economic growth of the country, but now they are experiencing a sharp slowdown.

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