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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.

Chongqing social security bureau fails to provide employee with social security – for 11 years

If an employer violates the law by not providing an employee with any kind of social security, the employee should go to their local labour and social security bureau and ask them to sort the problem out. Consider then the case of Gu Jianqing, who has worked for 11 years without a single social security contribution from his employer, the Jiulongpo District Labour and Social Security Bureau in Chongqing. Who does he turn to?

Child labour in China: History repeating itself

Three years ago, the Southern Metropolis Daily exposed a child labour trafficking ring that brought teenagers from the remote Liangshan region of Sichuan and sold them to factories across the Pearl River Delta. Three days ago, the same media group, exposed a case of 21 adolescents who had been trafficked from Liangshan and sold to an electronics factory in Shenzhen’s Longgang district. The details of how the children were trafficked and the conditions they worked under were almost identical.

Who is responsible when a worker dies inside the factory dormitory?

When 36-year-old Li Zhangjian died of a head injury just before the Lunar New Year holiday, his family did what many other migrant worker families do – they traveled down from their hometown in Henan to the luggage factory in Dongguan where Li was employed to demand compensation.

Shenzhen seeks to mask rather than resolve social unrest

New regulations drafted by the Shenzhen municipal government to outlaw public demonstrations involving self-harming and other disruptive behaviour by petitioners would be funny if they were not quite so tragic. The draft Shenzhen SEZ Petitioning Regulations (深圳经济特区信访条例) state that those who violate the new restrictions on petitioning activities will be detained by the police and punished according to law. Shenzhen lawmakers seem to be unaware of the fact that right now in China, if anyone attempts to harm themselves in public; they will almost certainly be arrested and detained by the police for weeks if not months on end.

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