Posts Tagged ‘Labor Unrest’

Protest and dissent in Putin’s Russia

August 27, 2019

In Russia, the Fight Is Alive by Ilya Matveev for Jacobin.

China: epicenter of global labor unrest?

September 2, 2012

Eli Friedman, an expert on international labor at Cornell University, wrote in Jacobin magazine that Chinese workers are rebelling against low wages and bad conditions, sometimes successfully.

More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest.  While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year.   All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China.   So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place.

More importantly, workers are winning, with many strikers capturing large wage increases above and beyond any legal requirements.  Worker resistance has been a serious problem for the Chinese state and capital and, as in the United States in the 1930s, the central government has found itself forced to pass a raft of labor legislation.  Minimum wages are going up by double digits in cities around the country and many workers are receiving social insurance payments for the first time.

To the extent that what Friedman describes is widespread, it is good news, both for Chinese working people and the world at large, because every success of Chinese workers makes it a little bit harder to drive down wages worldwide.

Friedman’s article reminded me of what I’ve read about American labor unrest in the 1870s and 1880s, when there was no recognized right of collective bargaining, company police were backed up by deputy sheriffs, state militias and federal troops, and yet workers struck against pay cuts and bad conditions at the risk of their livelihoods and lives.

Click on China in Revolt to read the whole article.

Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.