Cheap Labor Model Coming to an End
By Zhang Yiwei
SolidarityEconomy.net via Global Times
April 22, 2014 - A strike at a shoe manufacturer in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, which has spread to a branch factory in Jiangxi Province, has been prompted by a growing awareness of workers' rights in China, sending a signal that growth supported by cheap labor is no longer sustainable, experts told the Global Times Monday.
Thousands of workers at Yue Yuen, which makes sneakers for brands including Nike and Adidas, in Anfu county, Jiangxi, have been on strike since Friday morning. The striking workers are demanding their employer provide proof that it paid social security contributions on behalf of their staff, a source in the factory told the Global Times Monday. Yue Yuen belongs to Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, the biggest supplier of shoes and sneakers in China.
"Nearly two-thirds of the roughly 6,000-strong workforce left the factory floor and sat outside. They doubt whether the company has paid the insurance for the years they worked in the factory in accordance with Chinese regulations," said Yin Shu, a factory employee in his 20s, who did not join in the strike.
There has been no violence or conflict during the strike, and officials from nearby villages and local police arrived to persuade workers to return to work Friday.
The company then announced that workers were to stay off work from Saturday to Monday and that management would discuss how to tackle the issue.
"Many of us have been influenced by the Dongguan strike. As our factory is the same as theirs, it's possible that our factory also has malpractices in paying social security insurance for employees," Yin said, noting that the company has yet to give proof that it has paid the contributions.
Thousands of workers in the Dongguan-based Yue Yuen shoe factory have refused to work since April 5, one of the largest strikes in China in recent years.