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Drivers’ license seen by some workers as the ticket to upward mobility

It is not just the infamous game show contestant, Ma Nuo, who would rather have a BMW than a bicycle. There are about 140 million legal drivers in China, nearly half of whom got their license in the last five years. Being able to drive is seen by some as just as valuable a skill in China as speaking English or writing software, it is something that opens doors for you. It is a sign of ambition and foreword thinking.

People’s Daily cites gap between rich and poor as the most pressing issue in China, but solution still elusive

“I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on the back of my boyfriend's bicycle”. This statement made by a female contestant, Ma Nuo, on a popular dating show has caused condemnation and controversy in China’s blogospere. Ma claims that she was taken out of context, but in any case, she gave a face and a name to rampant materialism, degeneration of values, and the notion that many young people will do anything to join China’s rising affluent elite, who have already become the world’s second largest buyers of luxury goods.

Chongqing moves to address social livelihood issues

Chongqing plans to spend over 300 billion yuan ($44.28 billion USD) on “the ten people’s livelihood issues” (民生十条) over the next year and a half. Of this whopping amount of money, 130 billion yuan will be spent on “resolving rural residents who enter the city’s hukou status” and 70 billion on public housing. Billions of yuan will be spent on increasing farmers’ incomes, micro-loans, health services, rural health care, school security and other programs. Also, notably, 5 billion yuan will be spent on education for “left behind” children. (See Xinhua’s chart for full breakdown).

Chinese migrant workers exploited in Singapore

Two weeks ago, a truck carrying 17 migrant workers skidded and crashed, killing three workers and badly injuring the other 14. Just two days earlier, in the same city, another worker being transported along with a pile of building materials on the back of an open truck was killed after being impaled by a metal bar. But this was not a small city in central or western China, this was Singapore, supposedly one of the most advanced and modern cities in the world.

ACFTU jumps on Zhang Haichao bandwagon

It was hoped that Zhang’s high-profile intervention in the Xiao case could help give a slither of hope to an impoverished man who has spent more than 80,000 yuan on medical expenses and has consistently had officialdom interfere in his case in order to help the local coal baron Liu Xing’an. Sure enough, on 26 June a representative from the Sichuan Federation of Trade Unions came to Xiao’s hospital bedside to give him a check of 2,000 yuan of condolence payments (慰问金) , which, lo and behold, happened to also make a nice photo-op. The trade union also claimed that since November of 2008 they had been following the Xiao Huazhong case, and that they had passed on the relevant information to higher-level leaders.

Echoes of workers’ struggle in apartheid-era South Africa in China’s factories today

China and South Africa are of course historically, socially and economically very different but the similarities in the development of strike action in Durban in the 1970s, where one strike led to more than one hundred others, and the strikes in the Pearl River Delta today do invite examination.

Partial victory for Honda workers suggests a reasonably healthy state of labour relations

As the week-long strike at Honda Lock faded today, the picture that emerges is one of a relatively healthy and dynamic system of labour relations, albeit one that is still far from ideal. Emboldened by the success of strikes at two other Honda components plants, the workers at Honda Lock had asked for a wage increase of around 70 percent. After protracted negotiations and intense pressure from the workforce, management finally offered an increase in pay and benefits of around 20 percent. This, combined with attempts by management to recruit new employees, was enough to convince the majority of workers to return to the production line on Monday morning.

Demographics, generational changes, and policy successes have been key factors in changing worker mentality

In an insightful article in Caixin Online, the prominent economist Andy Xie recently wrote about one of the key factors that is contributing to the recent strikes and labour unrest: important demographic changes.

Foxconn’s latest pay offer comes with strings attached

Foxconn still doesn’t get it! If you are going to increase the basic pay of your employees to 2,000 yuan a month, then just increase the basic wage – do not make it conditional on passing a three-month performance evaluation. Basic pay is by definition “basic.” You should not have to perform really well to get a basic salary; you should get a bonus in addition to your basic wage if you perform well.

Kunming slams the door on migrant workers

While cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai have gradually made life easier for migrant workers over the least few years by easing restrictions on residency, education and healthcare, the southwestern city of Kunming has just taken a massive step backwards and announced plans to ban all migrants from employment unless they have already obtained a temporary residence permit, and lived and worked in the city for more than a year.


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