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Thread: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

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    Shi Huangdi
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    Thumbs down Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States


    GUANGZHOU, China -- Yao Xinde sat dazed on the roof of the student dormitory he helped build, gazing into the dark sky with his legs dangling over the edge of the 10-story building. It was a cold night, and he shivered as the wind cut through his thin black jacket. On the ground below, a large crowd gathered to see if he would jump.

    For six frustrating months, Yao had been trying to get one of this southern Chinese city's largest and best-connected construction firms to pay him and his crew of 80 workers for fitting the interior of the peach-tiled dorm. Now, the 40-year-old foreman and a colleague were threatening to throw themselves off the building if they didn't get their money.

    Police arrived quickly, followed by ambulances and emergency workers who unfolded a large net, witnesses said. Two tense hours later, officers accompanied one of the firm's managers to the roof with a package of cash wrapped in newsprint. Police passed the money to Yao and his friend, then pulled them to safety.

    "There was no other way to get what the company owed us," Yao explained a few weeks later, chain-smoking during an interview in his cramped, run-down apartment as his young son dozed nearby. "At the time, I was so exhausted and numb, I was really ready to die."

    Suicide threats by workers seeking to collect unpaid wages have become increasingly common in many parts of China, a telling sign of the frustrations felt by the nation's working class as the ruling Communist Party presses ahead with efforts to build a market economy while limiting political reform.

    The phenomenon is concentrated largely among the nearly 200 million workers who have left China's impoverished countryside for jobs in the cities, where they are treated as second-class citizens. And it is most pronounced in the winter weeks before the Lunar New Year, when these laborers collect their earnings and migrate en masse to their villages.

    In the run-up to the holiday this year -- it began Feb. 1 -- local Chinese newspapers carried several reports about workers "treating their lives lightly" in disputes over wage arrears, sometimes with photos of men perched precariously on towering construction cranes. In central Hubei province, one worker spent six hours threatening to leap from a crane before getting his money. In eastern Shandong province, another set himself on fire.

    Because most such incidents go unreported by China's state-run media, it is difficult to say how often they occur or how most are resolved. But one Chinese labor researcher who has studied the subject estimates that at least 100 migrant workers, most in construction, threaten to kill themselves over unpaid wages each year in just the Pearl River Delta, the manufacturing region that includes this booming city 75 miles northwest of Hong Kong.

    These suicide threats are acts of desperation as much as depression, made by men and women who have concluded -- with good reason -- that China's courts, trade unions and government agencies are unable or unwilling to help them. These institutions are underfunded and understaffed, and often controlled by party officials who have close ties with local employers.

    "These workers know the official channels don't work well," said the labor researcher, who asked not to be identified. "But as soon as they threaten to jump, they get attention. And in many cases, they get some money."

    The problem is serious enough that police in many Chinese cities have adopted a policy of jailing for up to two weeks workers who threaten to commit suicide, regardless of whether their labor grievances are justified.

    The central government has also acknowledged the difficulties that migrant workers face, and last month ordered localities to step up efforts to protect workers' rights and ensure that employers pay wages on time. But it is unclear whether local officials who depend on these businesses for taxes and bribes will respond.

    A survey published recently by the official New China News Agency found that nearly three in four migrant workers have trouble collecting their pay. A majority of those polled said begging from, bargaining with or intimidating their employers were the best ways to get their money, while barely a quarter considered seeking help from the government and less than 2 percent said going to court was a good option.

    Like most workers in China's corrupt and poorly regulated construction industry, Yao and his crew were not given formal contracts when the Huangpu No. 2 Construction Co. hired them for the dormitory project, and they were to be paid only after the building was finished. But because there is fierce competition for jobs, they agreed to the conditions.

    For nearly two months last spring and summer, Yao and his crew labored to meet the developer's strict deadlines, working seven days a week and more than 18 hours a day. But when the building was finished in June, they didn't get paid.

    Other crews at the site had the same problem. "We worked day and night to finish the project on time," said a crew foreman, who asked to be identified by only his surname, Xiong. "All of us were exhausted. But what did we get? Nothing!"

    The company owed Yao's crew about $10,000, and Xiong's crew of 140 men about $25,000, the workers said.

    Yao, a thin, sinewy man who first left his impoverished village in Sichuan province in search of construction jobs at age 13, said he exhausted other options before climbing to the roof of the dormitory at Guangzhou's Technical Institute of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce. Week after week, Yao visited the developer's offices and demanded payment. At first, managers told him the money was coming, but they needed to make deductions for materials and other costs, he said. Months later, they told him they weren't going to pay his crew anything because the deductions exceeded their salaries.

    Foremen such as Yao and Xiong were caught in the middle because they were responsible for distributing wages to the workers. Angry and suspicious workers often showed up at their homes, demanding that they be paid and sometimes threatening violence, they said.

    Yao and Xiong said they tried getting help from the city labor department. They were transferred from office to office, and never received a response to their complaint. They were also told it would be difficult to prove their case because they did not have written contracts.

    The men also considered going to court. But Yao had sued three different employers for back wages over the past decade, and each case had dragged on so long that he ended up losing money even when he won the judgments. "We can't win in court, because the bosses have the money and the power," he said. "We're just ordinary workers. We don't have human rights."

    Yao said he tried intimidating the company into paying him, leading his workers in rowdy protests in the firm's office. But that didn't work either.

    As the Lunar New Year approached, pressure from the workers intensified.

    Then, on Jan. 2, Yao learned his ex-wife had died, and he made plans to return home to settle her affairs. He called the construction firm, and managers agreed to see him and Xiong on Jan. 4.

    The meeting did not go well. "They told us they didn't have any money," Xiong said. "Finally, Yao said to them, 'You're pushing us to jump from the building, is that what you want us to do?' And the deputy manager said, 'Go ahead and jump! Go!' "

    Yao had read about workers threatening to kill themselves over unpaid wages, but only then did he understand how they felt. "After I left the office, I decided to die. I didn't see any other way," he recalled. "Too many workers were asking me for money, and I didn't know where to get it. I didn't know if my family was safe. But if I died, the workers couldn't come after me anymore."

    Yao and Xiong climbed the stairs to the roof of the dormitory. They wept as they called friends and relatives on their mobile phones to say goodbye.

    Yao said he told friends to avenge his death by murdering the construction firm's boss and his family. They tried to persuade him to come down. He refused. "If they didn't give me the money, I was going to jump," he said. "Then the company would be punished. Its reputation would be ruined, and it would lose contracts."

    Sitting on the roof about 30 yards away, Xiong was thinking about his family: his wife, an 8-year-old daughter, a 5-year-old son, and his aging parents. "I was worried no one would take care of them if I died," he said.

    But he, too, was determined to follow through. "We had tried everything, but no one would help us. That made us very desperate," he said. "I thought we had no choice but to choose to die."

    Even after the company agreed to pay them, they said, it took a while for police to convince them it was not a trick, that they were safe and had finally won.

    Reached by telephone, an official at Huangpu denied withholding wages from Yao and Xiong. "The matter is already resolved," said Chen Haiyang, project manager for the dorm. "Those workers who tried to jump from the building were out of their minds. They made trouble out of nothing."

    "They got their money back, of course," he added. "We even gave them more than they deserved."

    Researcher Jin Ling contributed to this report.

    I wonder what our PRC sympathizers*cough*Urban Ranger*cough* think of this....
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    Imran Siddiqui
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    Nice troll .
    “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
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    Graag
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    Sounds like anti-commie propaganda to me, where did the article come from?

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    KrazyHorse
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    What does China have to do with a Socialist State?
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    Oppression of workers is the natural outcome of a situation where those who control production also have sole control of the government.

    (Anybody else notice a striking resemblence between this story and the final scene of "Animal Farm?")

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    KrazyHorse
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    the ruling Communist Party presses ahead with efforts to build a market economy while limiting political reform


    i.e. fascism
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    Shi Huangdi
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    Originally posted by Graag
    Sounds like anti-commie propaganda to me, where did the article come from?
    The Washington Post
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    Urban Ranger
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    Sick Re: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

    Originally posted by Shi Huangdi
    I wonder what our PRC sympathizers*cough*Urban Ranger*cough* think of this....


    Good story.
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    monkspider
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    Come on Shi, surely you can do better to troll us commies than some silly propoganda about China, from the Washington Post of all things. That is just slighty above quoting Newsmax posters.
    http://monkspider.blogspot.com/

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    The PRC calls itself a socialist state.
    "Our scientific power has out run out spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." - Martin Luther King Jr.
    "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself."
    - Joseph Pulitzer

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    Urban Ranger
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    Sick

    Originally posted by monkspider
    Come on Shi, surely you can do better to troll us commies than some silly propoganda about China, from the Washington Post of all things. That is just slighty above quoting Newsmax posters.
    Largest and most well-connected constuction company: no name.

    student dormitory: no name of school, no address

    stories in local Chinese newspapers: no name, no date, no links

    A survey published recently by the official New China News Agency: no link, no cite

    anonymous labour researcher

    All these add up to something that one can't verify.

    (\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
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    Shi Huangdi
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    Sick Re: Re: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

    Originally posted by Urban Ranger




    Good story.

    So, how do you manage to explain your sympathy for such a state in which workers are treated so cruelly?

    "Come on Shi, surely you can do better to troll us commies than some silly propoganda about China, from the Washington Post of all things. That is just slighty above quoting Newsmax posters. "

    Nice job showing your ignorance. The Washington Post is a left of center newspaper which repetedly endorses Democraitc candidates. It is also a highly respected source of journalism.
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    Urban Ranger
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    Sick Re: Re: Re: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

    Originally posted by Shi Huangdi
    So, how do you manage to explain your sympathy for such a state in which workers are treated so cruelly?
    See my post above.
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    Originally posted by Oerdin
    The PRC calls itself a socialist state.
    The DPRK calls itself democratic.
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    monkspider
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    Re: Re: Re: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

    Originally posted by Shi Huangdi
    Nice job showing your ignorance. The Washington Post is a left of center newspaper which repetedly endorses Democraitc candidates. It is also a highly respected source of journalism.
    Are you sure? I always thought the Washington Post was one of those hardcore conservative rags. I suppose I could be mistaken.
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    Shi Huangdi
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    Originally posted by Urban Ranger


    Largest and most well-connected constuction company: no name.

    student dormitory: no name of school, no address

    stories in local Chinese newspapers: no name, no date, no links

    A survey published recently by the official New China News Agency: no link, no cite

    anonymous labour researcher

    All these add up to something that one can't verify.

    So you deny the existance of severe labor unrest in China?
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/...in504185.shtml

    CBS) Columns of helmeted military police dispersed thousands of protesters in one northern Chinese city and demonstrators overturned a car in another Wednesday, part of labor unrest fueled by anger over industrial reform that has blocked wages and benefits. Three labor leaders were detained by police.

    Accounts of the unrest, which came from witnesses in the cities of Daqing and Liaoyang in the heart of China's "rust belt," suggest that protests under way since early this month may be gathering steam.

    In Daqing, a famed oil town in northern China's frigid Heilongjiang province, witnesses said workers - many laid off - were demonstrating Wednesday morning in front of the provincial branch of China National Petroleum Corp. when a traffic accident took place.

    Protesters surged forward and overturned the gray Chinese-made Santana, one witness said. It was not clear who was inside the vehicle.

    "I don't know what happened to the victims and the driver," said a traffic police officer from the city's Ranghulu district, reached by telephone. He did not give his name.

    In Liaoyang, in Liaoning province, police seized Xiao Yunliang, Tang Qingxiang and Wang Zhaoming, three workers' leaders from the city's bankrupt Ferroalloy Factory after some 10,000 workers thronged around government headquarters, protesters said.

    Police let about 1,000 protesters inside the mostly empty building and locked a few chosen representatives into a room, but workers broke in the door and released them, they said. As they left the building, the police struck again, they added.

    "First, more than 20 plainclothes police attacked the group, tramping old retirees under their feet, and dragged away Xiao Yunliang. We could not stop them," one protester, a woman worker laid off from the Ferroalloy Factory, told Reuters.

    "Minutes later, another group of about 100 uniformed police attacked us again, beat us up and hauled away Tang Qingxiang and Wang Zhaoming. Now almost all our leaders are gone, and we don't know what to do."

    A Liaoyang man who works for a private factory but knows many of the protesters said owed salaries and severance payments are just part of the reason, and that "the real problem is that the life of laid-off workers is too difficult." The worker, who gave only his surname, Ma, said people feel the government used them "and then threw them away."

    Such demonstrations - particularly ones allowed to continue for so long - are unusual in China, where the government keeps a tight rein on protests and uses threats and force to discourage any anti-government activism.

    But the government also realizes that workers, once revered as the "vanguard of the proletariat," are suffering from widespread closures of inefficient and outdated state firms.

    Simmering unrest among workers and farmers represents one of the greatest threats to Communist Party rule as China prepares for a sweeping leadership change late this year.

    "It doesn't matter if it's Daqing or Liaoyang, these are the biggest organized demonstrations since 1989," said Han Dongfang, a labor activist exiled after the Tiananmen demonstrations and now with Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin.

    He said Beijing had told local governments to handle protests without bloodshed in the sensitive run-up to a party congress in September or October, when top leaders are expected to retire.

    "It is a different issue how the local governments will interpret and implement it," he said.

    One woman who works in a travel agency near the Liaoyang city office said she saw 10,000 demonstrators on her way to work Wednesday - the ninth straight day of protests in front of the building. Protesters carried a portrait of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong mounted on a small chariot and red banners.

    She said the number of protesters had increased by several thousand since Monday, with throngs crowding Democracy Road and narrow streets nearby each morning. Most were gone by the afternoon.

    The protests have been peaceful, "but such a big crowd of protesters really shocked us," she said.

    The government has been loath to acknowledge the protests. Liaoyang city officials said they didn't exist. "It's quiet outside," said a spokesman at the offices being besieged.

    Ma, the worker from the nearby Jian An Machine Factory, said protests began with laid-off workers from Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory but expanded this week to include ex-workers from other plants.

    Farmers even joined in to protest not being paid by bankrupt factories that built on their lands, said Ma.

    Protesters are angry at Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory for refusing to pay laid-off workers severance pay of $500 a year. Ma said former workers feel they were cheated by factory managers working with corrupt local officials.

    The demonstrations in Liaoyang escalated last week with the arrest of protest leader Yao Fuxin, detained by plainclothes police Thursday, according to the China Labor Bulletin. Yao, 54, led workers at the Liaoyang Ferroalloy Plant for the last four years since operators declared bankruptcy, it said.

    Another worker protest broke out last week in the mining city of Fushun, also in Liaoning, a mining official said.

    About 1,000 textile workers had also been protesting in Guangyuan in the southwestern province of Sichuan since March 13 to demand promised compensation for job losses, a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin said.

    A Guangyuan police official said those protests ended a few days ago after several arrests.

    Labor activists also said disgruntled workers had protested in the central province of Henan and the coastal provinces of Guangdong and Fujian in the past month.
    "I'm moving to the Left" - Lancer

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

    Originally posted by monkspider
    I always thought the Washington Post was one of those hardcore conservative rags.
    Washington Times.

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

    Originally posted by DinoDoc

    Washington Times.
    Oh, thanks Dino-D.
    http://monkspider.blogspot.com/

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    When a State (such as China) acts to rapidly open itself up to free-market reform while retaining a dictatorial style of government, then I call it fascist. Especially when the criticism it's being placed under deals with the free-market section of its economy.
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    Shi Huangdi
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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Treatmeant of workers in Socialist States

    Originally posted by monkspider


    Are you sure? I always thought the Washington Post was one of those hardcore conservative rags. I suppose I could be mistaken.
    The Washington Times is a hardcore conservative rag. The Washington Post is a liberal newspaper, which gained national prestige for helping to uncover the Watergate scandal.
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    monkspider
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    Oh okay, fair enough Shi. My mistake.
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    Originally posted by Shi Huangdi
    So you deny the existance of severe labor unrest in China?
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/...in504185.shtml
    Did I say that? Com'on, you can do better with such an obvious strawman.
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    Shi Huangdi
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    Thumbs down

    So you admit China is having such Labor problems? The fact is China is being very harsh towards its workers and is repressing labor unrest brutally. Shame on you for sympathizing with such a state while calling yourself a leftie at the same time.
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  25. #25
    Urban Ranger
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    Originally posted by Shi Huangdi
    So you admit China is having such Labor problems?
    Is there a country without problems? Don't tell me it's the US

    Originally posted by Shi Huangdi
    The fact is China is being very harsh towards its workers and is repressing labor unrest brutally.
    Could you be a bit more descriptive and quantitative about it? How harsh is harsh? How is the labour unrest being "brutally repressed?" Did they get fired on or something?
    (\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
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  26. #26
    chequita guevara
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    Shi Huangdi, do kindly remember that our HK comrade is not in a country that brooks criticism lightly. Try not to get him to say anything that might get him thrown into prison.

    So let me see if I have this straight, BD, you're criticizing the treatment of workers by capitalist emterprises in an unregulated industry. . . . And this is an anti-communist troll how? Oh, right, China, a Communist run government and a capitalist economy.

    The wage-slaves who work in the garment industry often don't get paid. They just show up to work one day and the facotry is closed and they're owed months of back wages on clothes that may even be on your back. Some workers in Russia have gone as long as two years without getting paid. In the Third World, capitalists get away with more or less whatever they want.
    Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

  27. #27
    Urban Ranger
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    Originally posted by chegitz guevara
    Shi Huangdi, do kindly remember that our HK comrade is not in a country that brooks criticism lightly. Try not to get him to say anything that might get him thrown into prison.
    On the contrary, comrade, we have more political freedom here than in the US. At least, we can say bin Laden or al-Qaeda without a bunch of goony men in trench coats and shades paying us a visit.

    Speaking of which, the local construction workers are also getting shafted. I have never seen any news about construction workers in the PRC doing the suicidal threat, but some local construction workers did.
    (\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
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  28. #28
    chequita guevara
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    I wonder if China's going to do a full return to capitalism or if they're just letting the capitalists build the infrastructure, and then going back to state socialism.
    Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

  29. #29
    KrazyHorse
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    That would be a pretty good joke...

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  30. #30
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    But...but...I just built this factory!
    04-06-04 Killdozer NEVER FORGET
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