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Once again, labour issues hot topic in domestic media

Looking at influential newspaper Southern Weekend (南方周末) – one couldn’t help but notice that three of the top ten “most popular” articles are directly linked with distortions in the labour market.

Beida Prof needs to take elementary school science class

Many people in China are talking about China’s first employment discrimination lawsuit based on the prospective employee’s AIDS status. The plaintiff, known by his pseudonym Xiao Wu, filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit in the Yingjiang District Court in Anqing on 26 August after the Anqing education department denied him a teaching position because he was HIV positive. The court formally accepted the case on Monday August 30, but the court ruled against him on 12 November. Xiao Wu, however, plans to appeal.

Seminar suggests child labour is on the rise in China

The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 215 million children around the world engaged in work. No one knows for sure how many children are working in China because the government does not publish such data, but the recent signs are worrying. Several participants at a seminar in Shenzhen last week indicated that the use of child labour was on the rise again, particularly since the implementation of the Labour Contract Law in 2008. Children were primarily employed by factories as a means of cutting costs.

A small step forward but still a long way to go for trade unions in China

It is probably the smallest trade union in the world, but the establishment of a two person union in a small privatized factory on the outskirts of Beijing last month still represents a step forward for China’s workers.

Chilean mine rescue leads to soul searching in China

The inspirational rescue of 33 Chilean miners, broadcast live around the world this week, has been met with mixed feelings in China. While sharing in the joy of the miners’ liberation from ten weeks underground, many in China are asking what would have happened if the workers had been trapped in a Chinese mine.

Collective bargaining and raising wages may be in China’s strategic interests

Although Chinese policymakers are very weary of "instability", they may not necessarily see workers demands for higher wages as a bad thing.

Mine bosses quick to countermand government order to go underground

The bosses of a privately-owned coal mine in Guangxi have devised a cunning plan to evade their forthcoming legal obligation to accompany miners underground during work shifts – they have selected and promoted seven junior managers to take their place.

The humanity of Chilean mine saga: a poignant contrast with China

On 5 August 2010, more than 33 miners were trapped deep inside a mine, causing many to fear for the worst. However, remarkably, 17 days later, the miners were found to be still alive, to the relief and joy of their families and countrymen. After reading news stories of the events and watching video, one couldn’t help but be struck by the stark contrasts with Chinese post-incident report coverage:

Are "hometown unions" the best defenders of migrant workers' rights?

Recently in Shaanxi province, 118 migrant workers – who were mainly from Hubei province – were beaten by 300 thugs while staging a protest to get back their back pay at a railway bridge construction project near the historic city of Xi’an. In total, thirty workers were injured, nine severely. But strangely, what has attracted attention to their case is not the horrific scale of violence used by the employer, but the way the dispute was eventually settled.

Foxconn and Elec-Tech – a tale of two factories

As Foxconn was staging its elaborate song and dance show yesterday to convince the world that, after a string of suicides earlier this year, everything was now fine and the workers in its Chinese factories were happy, a Hong Kong activist group released a report on a lesser known factory where appalling work conditions have clearly not improved. In the last year alone, more than 60 workers at Elec-Tech International, a manufacturer of small home appliances, have been injured, many losing fingers and hands while operating antiquated and dangerous machinery at the company’s plant in Zhuhai, according to the report by Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM).


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