12 June 2010

Chinese media prevented from reporting strike action

Its all starting to kick off now isn't it?

As I predicted the CCP is pissing the people off and exploiting them too heavily and has begun to push them way too far and the Chinese people are very pissed off, 1989 never went away. As a nod to my HPC homeboys and Injin they can't oppress forever and they can't hide it forever either.

Article from today's SCMP. China is now clamping down on further reporting on strikes in China.

The leaders of China's Communist Party - which can trace its origins to labour movements - face a dilemma after a wave of labour unrest that has hit Shanghai and at leastfour cities in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shaanxi and Jiangxi this month.

Acutely aware of the destabilising impact of such unrest, the party's propaganda department has forbidden mainland media from reporting on any strikes, issuing a gagging order on May 28.

Meanwhile, official mouthpieces such as Xinhua continue to play down the scale of the problem, claiming that all disputes have been promptly settled, and also playing down the number of workers involved.

The media was given freedom to cover the first strike at a Honda component factory in Foshan, Guangdong, and also extensively covered previous strikes in Dongguan, Guangdong, last year.

Editors and reporters from major mainland newspapers told the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) yesterday that they had been banned from reporting or commenting on the latest wave of strikes.

Analysts said they believed the U-turn on strike reporting suggested that Beijing was feeling the heat of large-scale labour unrest and feared more strikes could be triggered by media coverage. But labour disputes have shown no sign of abating following the ban on reporting and continue to ripple to different provinces. Analysts said the authorities should address the root cause rather than banning media reports.

Xinhua's English service reported on Thursday night that an agreement had been reached between workers and management at Honda Lock in Zhongshan, Guangdong, but workers immediately disputed the report and remained on strike yesterday.

More than 500 Honda Lock workers had a near two-hour stand-off with 50 riot police outside the factory yesterday morning after being told they would have to accept a 100 yuan (HK$114) pay rise or resign.

They were told by their human resources manager to make the decision on the spot independently and were warned later of "serious consequences" if they walked away from the job. Many workers said they regarded the deal offered to them by management as an insult.

No clashes took place. The workers chanted slogans vowing to be united and determined in fighting for a reasonable pay rise.

The current silence in the mainland media is in stark contrast to the relatively free coverage of the first Honda strike, staged by 1,900 workers in Foshan in late May.

It featured in headlines in outspoken newspapers such as The Southern Metropolis News and News Express on May 28, a few hours before the ban was issued.

The Southern Metropolis News ran a two-page independent report on the strike, with pictures showing workers rallying outside the factory, but all stories have been deleted from its website since the ban.

The News Express gave a full page of coverage to the Foshan strike. Its story was still accessible on its website yesterday.

Major mainland Internet portals are now banned from putting news about strikes on their homepages.

Workers involved in the strikes are also being put under immense pressure not to speak to overseas reporters.

Guangzhou-based independent commentator Chang Ping said that simply blocking the information would not stop workers staging more strikes.

"Workers have eventually realised their labour rights and are fighting for them with actions... that's something that you can't stop with a propaganda ban," he said. "That's an inborn political right that you can never deprive the workers of."

Young migrant workers who were less tolerant of harsh factory conditions had their own ways of communicating and did not rely on the mainstream media. Those workers, born after 1980, knew how to scale the "great firewall" of Internet censorship, he said.

Former China Youth Daily editor Li Datong criticised the central government for ignoring the worsening violation of labour rights even though it was a widespread social problem. He said strikes had been banned on the mainland since 1982, when Beijing formally removed a clause from the constitution that gave workers the right to strike.

All mainland labour unions are controlled by management and the Communist Party, rather than elected by workers themselves.

"The Communist Party banned people from striking in 1982 because they claimed Chinese people were masters of the country and state-owned companies," Li said. "It's ridiculous to follow the theory after the country fundamentally changed in the past 28 years, with joint-venture and foreign-invested companies becoming a dominant part of its economy."

Wen Xiaoyi, a researcher at the China Institute of Industrial Relations in Beijing, told Reuters the government had "to adapt to treating labour disputes as a part of economic life, not as a political threat".

However, the editors are pessimistic that the latest wave of strikes can bring a big improvement to the country's sweatshops, with the bargaining power of migrant workers still very low because of an abundant labour supply.

A series of strikes has broken out after the first strike at Foshan Honda Autoparts Manufacturing, which came days after electronics giant Foxconn offered a pay rise in response to a public outcry over suicides. State media reported yesterday that Foxconn had stopped hiring on the mainland.

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