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Putting the garment industry’s promises into perspective

The final death toll at Rana Plaza was 1,127.  It was by far the worst disaster in the centuries-long history of garment industry tragedies. Yet, the response of the international garment industry and the government in Bangladesh thus far has been to promise basic safety standards and workers’ rights that should have been in place years ago.

Police reaction to migrant’s death highlights social tensions in Beijing

As several hundred migrants from Anhui staged a protest in Beijing on 8 May demanding a proper investigation into the suspicious death of a young migrant at a local market, police descended in force and helicopters circled above to make sure the protest did not get out of hand. Front page photograph of a now demolished migrant community in Beijing.

A time to remember, a time to act

Sunday 28 April is the International Labour Organization World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the day workers around the world commemorate the victims of work accidents and occupational disease and urge all governments to take action.

Why it is important to remember Sun Zhigang

Ten years ago, a young migrant worker, Sun Zhigang, was brutally beaten to death whilst in police custody in Guangzhou. When the incident was reported by the Southern Metropolitan Daily at the end of April 2003, it caused a national outrage and mounting public pressure forced the newly installed government in Beijing to quickly dismantle regulations controlling the movement of migrant workers in an attempt to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

Hong Kong port operator needs to learn from Shenzhen and talk to the workers

The Hong Kong dock strike is making people in the shipping industry here nervous. The headline in today’s South China Morning Post proclaimed “Strike a threat to port’s status, industry says.” Photograph of strikers inside the terminal on 1 April.

The Devil wears Baleno

There are an awful lot of obnoxious and abusive bosses in China. Encouragingly, however, more and more employees are refusing to take it anymore and are blowing the whistle on their boss’ excesses.

The limits to sufferance: Singapore cracks down on striking migrant workers

Strikes by bus drivers are a regular occurrence in China, with drivers in one city or another suspending services in protests at pay and working conditions just about every week: Not so in Singapore where there has not been a strike of any description since the 1960s. Not until last week, that is, when nearly 200 Chinese bus drivers went out on strike over unequal pay.Photograph of Serangoon Gardens dormitory courtesy of Stephanie Chok.

Chinese factory manager causes near riot in Cambodia

Six months ago, in discussing the massive influx of Chinese businesses into Cambodia, I wrote that “there is a real danger that Chinese businesses will simply try to replicate the exploitative model of labour relations that Chinese workers are now beginning to reject at home.” Sadly it seems that process has already begun. Photograph of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh at sunset.

How can China best protect its medical workers from violent assault?

The sentencing on 21 October of a teenager to life in prison for the murder of a medical intern and the stabbing of three other hospital workers in the north-eastern city of Harbin has once again highlighted the increasingly serious problem of assaults on medical workers by patients and other members of the public.

Will China’s cities really let migrant students sit the national college entrance examination?

The prize for Most Misleading Headline of the Week goes to the China Daily last Friday for its proclamation “Migrant children to sit gaokao in cities.” If true, this would be the answer to millions of migrant workers’ prayers for their children who, have to return “home” to the countryside to take the national college entrance exam. Photo by emop, available at flickr under a creative commons license..


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