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Sunday, December 26, 2004

Trouble in Toyland

The Guardian carried a good piece by Jonathan Watts on Christmas Eve about the continuing labour unrest in China's Guangdong province. It's hard to believe that
more than 80% of the world's Christmas trees and 75% of the toys that are wrapped up under them are produced within a 50-mile radius of Shenzhen port.
But what is most encouraging is that the workers there are not only fighting back against the worst industrial conditions in the new 'workshop of the world' but are actually winning.

With jobs easier to come by, workers are increasingly emboldened to take industrial action. Among the biggest of many recent strikes took place at the Haiyan Electronics factory, which makes DVD and CD players for the international market. In November, 3,000 employees blocked the streets for five hours in protest at a basic monthly salary of 230 yuan.

Nine of the organisers were arrested, but the demonstration worked - the vice-governor of Shenzhen intervened per sonally to fire the manager and triple salaries - which brought them to just above the minimum wage.


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