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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.
With a workforce of more than one million, the electronics giant Foxconn has enough workers in its Chinese factories to fill a small country. So it's fitting that the company has vowed to make its manufacturing kingdom a bit more democratic by encouraging union elections.
Han Dongfang talks to a Shenzhen factory worker about why workers campaigned to remove the trade union chairman they had democratically elected just nine months earlier. .
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.
A government-created trade union is being touted as the solution to the long list of grievances routinely voiced by taxi drivers across China. But for taxi driver trade unions to be really effective, the authorities will have to embrace the idea that the job of the trade union is to empower rather than control its members. Photograph by Boris van Hoytema available at flickr.com under a creative commons license.
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.
China’s workers have demonstrated remarkable solidarity and organizational skill for several years now in strikes and protests across the country. They are now demanding a better trade union too.
The right to strike came up again during the annual parliamentary gathering in Beijing last week. Ge Jianxiong, head of Fudan University Library, suggested that the right to strike be restored to the Chinese constitution, telling the Financial Times that strikes were an effective way of defending workers’ rights, and should be legally protected.
Employees at the Shenzhen electronics factory that just nine months ago held democratic trade union elections have demanded the ouster of the union chairman and new elections to choose a representative who will defend their interests more forcefully. Photograph of Ohms workers at factory gate from Yangcheng Evening News.
Just nine months after democratically electing a new trade union chairman, ten workers at Ohms Electronics in Shenzhen yesterday climbed on to the factory roof in protest at the company’s refusal to sign an open-ended employment contract with them.

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