Chengguan, the low-level law-enforcement officers tasked with keeping order on city streets, are probably the most reviled group of workers in China today. But now many are now claiming they are more sinned against than sinners.
I started working as a chengguan when I left the army. About 70 percent of my co-workers are veterans like me. We so-called law-enforcers head out every day to clear the streets of illegal obstructions and all we get from the public and our managers are criticism and abuse. People call us assholes because we deprive street vendors of their source of income, but do you know how much my monthly salary is? It is just 1,200 yuan! I have nothing left after I buy powdered milk for my kid. I would say 90 percent of my co-workers can’t afford to buy a home. We also have to do unpaid overtime, even on holidays.
A four day strike at a Korean-owned handbag factory in Guangzhou has gone completely unreported in the official Chinese media this week as authorities attempt to prevent a repeat of last summer’s wave of strikes in factories in Guangdong and across China.
For more than a century, Chinese have climbed mountains, crossed stormy seas and stowed away in the hope of working overseas. Their dream is a life beyond the poverty of home. But, they are usually exploited by ruthless middlemen and employers. Despite this, the search for a new life continues today, even with the improvements to the lives of tens of millions in China.
Simmering tensions in labour relations in the mainland are sometimes exacerbated by the tough conditions faced by migrant workers. Now and again, these tensions bubble over into open confrontation, as they did last weekend. The unrest was triggered when a pregnant migrant woman from Sichuan province was asked to remove her hawker’s stall by village security officers on Friday night. Workers accused the villages’ security officers of pushing the pregnant woman to the ground. Those accusations led to a violent conflict between workers and security officers. Hundreds of people, mainly workers from Sichuan workers, flocked to the area. Some hurled bricks and bottles at municipality officers.
A court in Yiwu, Zhejiang, has agreed to hear China’s first ever lawsuit against an employer for refusing to hire a prospective employee on the grounds of their white blood cell count. The lawsuit, filed by a Ningbo University graduate, accuses the Yiwu municipal education and labour departments of denying him a job as a high school mathematics teacher because his medical examination indicated an abnormally high white blood cell count.