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China’s misplaced concerns over workers in Africa

All of a sudden China’s overseas workers are headline news. The official Chinese media and the Internet have been flooded with expressions of concern and outrage at the abduction of 29 Chinese road workers in Sudan. While some bloggers are demanding commando raids to rescue the workers, the Global Times took a rather more measured approach, urging Chinese embassies to do more to protect Chinese nationals, and for individuals to be more safety conscious when working overseas.

Mind the gap: Apple’s code of conduct and China’s labour laws

When Apple, one of the world’s most secretive companies, was winning plaudits for finally revealing the names of its supplier companies in its 2012 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report last Friday, one small detail seems to have been overlooked.

No country for old men and especially women

There are about 119 million people in China aged 65-years or older, that is 8.9 percent of the total population. According to official estimates, only one quarter of them have a pension. And even those who do have a pension usually cannot rely on it for a sufficient income. The vast majority of China’s elderly depend on their children for support or have to find part-time work to get by. And women are significantly worse off than men.

Exporting labour abuses – Chinese mining companies in Zambia

A new research report published by Human Rights Watch this month documents a wide-range of labour abuses including anti-union activities but focuses primarily on safety issues. And here, for anyone remotely familiar with the working conditions and management practices in Chinese mines, an all-too-familiar picture emerges.

Lanzhou railway deaths highlight two fundamental issues facing construction workers in China

For well over a decade now, construction workers have had to contend with two major life- and livelihood-threatening issues – work safety and wage arrears. One incident in western China over the weekend put both these problems into sharp perspective.

Young worker reports violent boss to the police - gets compensation and an apology

Like many other vocational school students from a poor family, 20-year-old Young Cai got a factory job this summer to help pay his school fees. On 5 July, he started working at a shoe factory near his home in Quanzhou, Fujian, doing 11-hour shifts a day for a promised monthly salary of 1,500 yuan. When he was beaten by the boss for working too slowly he went to the local police station. The police came to the factory and ordered the boss to make a formal apology and pay Cai 1,500 yuan in compensation, in addition to the 600 yuan in wages he was already owed.

China’s vocational schools offer golf caddie training for the would-be upwardly mobile

A vocational school in the southern province of Hunan is offering middle and high school graduates the chance to forge a new career, and mix with the rich and powerful, by training as a golf caddie. It seems clear that the only reason students would consider this course is not for the job itself but because they think it will put them in close proximity to the businessmen, government officials and influential investors who regularly prowl the country’s ever expanding network of golf courses and country clubs.

Social injustice in China: Two widows’ tales

At China Labour Bulletin, we hear tales of injustice and hardship on almost a daily basis but even so, these two appalling and ridiculous incidents stood out simply because of the absolute lack of compassion and humanity exhibited by both employer and government officials.

Why Hong Kong business guru thinks higher wages are good for China

The Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club was packed this lunchtime to listen to one of the territory's best known businessmen address the question of whether or not wage rises in China are a cause for concern. Bruce Rockowitz, President of Li & Fung (Trading) Ltd., was very much of the opinion that putting more money into the pockets of workers was without doubt a good thing for China – economically, socially and politically.

Melbourne court awards Chinese dumpling chef A$200,000 in unpaid wages

In a rare legal victory for Chinese workers abroad, a Melbourne court has ordered one of the city’s most popular dumpling restaurants to pay a chef around A$200,000 in unpaid overtime and other benefits. Chang Chang, who moved to Australia in 2004, worked at the Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant 13 hours a day, six days a week for just A$100 a day. Despite being grossly underpaid and overworked, Chang only took legal action against his boss after he obtained permanent Australian residency. Like many other Chinese migrant workers abroad, Chang feared that if he sought redress before getting residency, he might lose his job and his employment visa would be revoked.

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