Archive for the Trade unions Category

People’s Daily celebrates workers on May Day [Xinhua]

Posted in China, CPC, Employment, Holidays in China, Labor, Trade unions on May 1, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, April 30 (Xinhua) — The People’s Daily will carry a long article on Friday, International Workers Day, detailing how the Communist Party of China cares for the working class.

The CPC Central Committee has always cared for the working class and attaches great importance to labor unions and workers’ lives, according to the article in the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China.

President Xi Jinping has stressed many times in his speeches that the entire country may rely wholeheartedly on the working class and uphold the idea that hard work is the most honorable, noblest, greatest and most beautiful virtue, the documentary said.

Xi said only through honest work can people realize their dreams and solve the difficulties that arise in the course of development, according to the commentary.

A total of 2,968 model workers were recognized at a ceremony attended by the nation’s top leaders on Tuesday, when Xi promised to protect workers’ interests, increase their wages and realize the Chinese Dream through the concrete results of their tireless endeavors.

The last time model workers were honored in this way was 36 years ago…after the Cultural Revolution.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, Xi described the working class and “the broadest masses of the people”, as the fundamental force behind economic growth and the basis of social stability.

Xi has often met and talked with workers during his inspections trips, highlighting their role in the country’s development and urging the government to improve their standard of living.

Xi learned from his work in the countryside at a young age that labor is an important key to tempering work style and keeping close relations with the mass, said the article in the People’ Daily.

Xi also highlighted the importance of labor unions, demanding stronger labor unions to better connect common workers and the CPC.

Editor: yan

Edited by Zuo Shou

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The Western Welfare State: Its Rise and Demise and the Soviet Bloc [The James Petras Website]

Posted in Anti-communism, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Italy, NATO, Stalin, Trade unions, USSR, Vietnam on July 13, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

07.04.2012 :: Analysis

Introduction: One of the most striking socio-economic features of the past two decades is the reversal of the previous half-century of welfare legislation in Europe and North America. Unprecedented cuts in social services, severance pay, public employment, pensions, health programs, educational stipends, vacation time, and job security are matched by increases in tuition, regressive taxation, and the age of retirement as well as increased inequalities, job insecurity and workplace speed-up.

The demise of the ‘welfare state’ demolishes the idea put forth by orthodox economists, who argued that the ‘maturation’ of capitalism, its ‘advanced state’, high technology and sophisticated services, would be accompanied by greater welfare and higher income/standard of living. While it is true that ‘services and technology’ have multiplied, the economic sector has become even more polarized, between low paid retail clerks and super rich stock brokers and financiers. The computerization of the economy has led to electronic bookkeeping, cost controls and the rapid movements of speculative funds in search of maximum profit while at the same time ushering in brutal budgetary reductions for social programs.

The ‘Great Reversal’ appears to be a long-term, large-scale process centered in the dominant capitalist countries of Western Europe and North America and in the former Communist states of Eastern Europe. It behooves us to examine the systemic causes that transcend the particular idiosyncrasies of each nation.

The Origins of the Great Reversal

There are two lines of inquiry which need to be elucidated in order to come to terms with the demise of the welfare state and the massive decline of living standards. One line of analysis examines the profound change in the international environment: We have moved from a competitive bi-polar system, based on a rivalry between the collectivist – welfare states of the Eastern bloc and the capitalist states of Europe and North America to an international system monopolized by competing capitalist states.

A second line of inquiry directs us to examine the changes in the internal social relations of the capitalist states: namely the shift from intense class struggles to long-term class collaboration, as the organizing principle in the relation between labor and capital.

The main proposition informing this essay is that the emergence of the welfare state was a historical outcome of a period when there were high levels of competition between collectivist welfarism and capitalism and when class-struggle oriented trade unions and social movements had ascendancy over class-collaborationist organizations.

Clearly the two processes are inter-related: As the collectivist states implemented greater welfare provisions for their citizens, trade unions and social movements in the West had social incentives and positive examples to motivate their members and challenge capitalists to match the welfare legislation in the collectivist bloc.

The Origins and Development of the Western Welfare State

Immediately following the defeat of fascist-capitalist regimes with the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and its political allies in Eastern Europe embarked on a massive program of reconstruction, recovery, economic growth and the consolidation of power, based on far-reaching socio-economic welfare reforms. The great fear among Western capitalist regimes was that the working class in the West would “follow” the Soviet example or, at a minimum, support parties and actions which would undermine capitalist recovery. Given the political discredit of many Western capitalists because of their collaboration with the Nazis or their belated, weak opposition to the fascist version of capitalism, they could not resort to the highly repressive methods of the past. Instead, the Western capitalist classes applied a two-fold strategy to counter the Soviet collectivist-welfare reforms: Selective repression of the domestic Communist and radical Left and welfare concessions to secure the loyalty of the Social and Christian Democratic trade unions and parties.

With economic recovery and post-war growth, the political, ideological and economic competition intensified: The Soviet bloc introduced wide-ranging reforms, including full employment, guaranteed job security, universal health care, free higher education, one month paid vacation leave, full pay pensions, free summer camps and vacation resorts for worker families and prolonged paid maternity leave. They emphasized the importance of social welfare over individual consumption. The capitalist West was under pressure to approximate the welfare offerings from the East, while expanding individual consumption based on cheap credit and installment payments made possible by their more advanced economies. From the mid 1940’s to the mid 1970’s the West competed with the Soviet bloc with two goals in mind: To retain workers loyalties in the West while isolating the militant sectors of the trade unions and to entice the workers of the East with promises of comparable welfare programs and greater individual consumption.

Despite the advances in social welfare programs, East and West, there were major worker protests in East Europe: These focused on national independence, authoritarian paternalistic tutelage of trade unions and insufficient access to private consumer goods. In the West, there were major worker-student upheavals in France and Italy demanding an end of capitalist dominance in the workplace and social life. Popular opposition to imperialist wars (Indo-China, Algeria, etc.), the authoritarian features of the capitalist state (racism) and the concentration of wealth was widespread.

In other words, the new struggles in the East and West were premised on the consolidation of the welfare state and the expansion of popular political and social power over the state and productive process.

The continuing competition between collectivist and capitalist welfare systems ensured that there would be no roll-back of the reforms thus far achieved. However, the defeats of the popular rebellions of the sixties and seventies ensured that no further advances in social welfare would take place. More importantly a social ‘deadlock’ developed between the ruling classes and the workers in both blocs leading to stagnation of the economies, bureaucratization of the trade unions and demands by the capitalist classes for a dynamic, new leadership, capable of challenging the collectivist bloc and systematically dismantling the welfare state.

The Process of Reversal: From Reagan-Thatcher to Gorbachev

The great illusion, which gripped the masses of the collectivist-welfare bloc, was the notion that the Western promise of mass consumerism could be combined with the advanced welfare programs that they had long taken for granted. The political signals from the West however were moving in the opposite direction. With the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, the capitalists regained full control over the social agenda, dealing mortal blows to what remained of trade union militancy and launching a full scale arms race with the Soviet Union in order to bankrupt its economy. In addition, ‘welfarism’ in the East was thoroughly undermined by an emerging class of upwardly mobile, educated elites who teamed up with kleptocrats, neo-liberals, budding gangsters and anyone else who professed ‘Western values’. They received political and material support from Western foundations, Western intelligence agencies, the Vatican (especially in Poland), European Social Democratic parties and the US AFL-CIO while, on the fringes, an ideological veneer was provided by the self-described ‘anti-Stalinist’ leftists in the West…

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Why is the bible of capitalism cheering on Chinese workers? []

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Capitalist media double standard, China, China-bashing, Corporate Media Critique, Labor, Media smear campaign, Trade unions on December 1, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Daniel Ben-Ami is not convinced by the outbreak of workers’ solidarity in The Economist, the FT and amongst writers normally so fond of austerity.

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Shanghai, a duet of capital and revolution [Xinhua]

Posted in China, CPC, CPC Central Committee (CPCCC), Economy, Education, Employment, Labor, Labor strike, Mao Zedong, Shanghai, Tourism, Trade unions on May 29, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, May 15 (Xinhuanet) — Modern-day skyscrapers, streaming vehicles, busy Shanghai Stock Exchange, grand Nanpu and Yangpu highway bridges…compose a landscape of an international metropolis.

This is Shanghai, China’s largest economic center and one of world’s vital financial bases, a large and dynamic showcase of modern and prosperity.

Established as a town in the 13th century, Shanghai was once the largest economic center in the Far East. Since the founding of New China in 1949 and, in particular, the start of reform and opening-up in 1978, Shanghai’s economy and society have undergone great changes and the city has become one of the international economic, financial, trade and shipping centers of the world.

Thanks to rich history and open policy it enjoys, Shanghai is a melting pot with all-embracing tolerance of cultures and a fascinating metropolis blending dynamic fashion and graceful nostalgia. It is where old people can cherish their memory of the past and young people can find fashion to follow, foreigners feel very Chinese and Chinese feel very foreign, which is indeed the true essence of Shanghai culture.

People can experience the elegance of old Shanghai by roaming along the Bund or indulging in the old dancing saloon Paramount Hall, feel the dynamic fashion by shopping in the Nanjing Road, as well as enjoy the romantic mood in mixed style of Shanghai and the west by seating in the Xintiandi.

As a melting pot, it also has been performing another kind of duet. Ninety years ago, Chinese Communist Party (CPC) was born in a two-storey building in contemporary Frenchtown in the city, where the First National Congress of CPC was held.

In the following decades, the city has witnessed two styles of tremendous changes in Chinese history, liberation by CPC troops, foundation of PRC, and the Cultural Revolution on one side, while Reform and Opening-up, economic and financial development on the other hand.

Xingyelu, the site of the First National Congress of CPC, now is surrounded by international galleries, bars and cafes, boutiques or theme restaurants. However, Shikumen, or stone gate, the architecture style of the site, is retained here for decades . The buildings nearby, with antique walls, tiles and exterior of Shikumen, are endowed fashion and new commercial value interiorly.

Pudong, used to be a rural area of Shanghai where soldiers fought battles, is regarded as a vanguard of China’s economic and financial development nowadays.

China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong, one of the three high-profile CPC cadre training institutes, locates here. The Pudong-based institute runs courses on international affairs, and helps trainees keep pace with the times and be more open.

After [the] CPC had been founded on July 23, 1921, it led an organized strike immediately in Shanghai. Chinese workers of British and American Tobacco’s factories in Shanghai struck in July and August, asking for firing a foreign supervisor who deducted their wages. It was the first strike that CPC led since its birth, followed by three…armed Shanghai worker’s [sic] uprisings.

BAT’s Chinese workers [were] deeply involved [in] the revolution led by CPC against the capitalist[s] and their regime. In spite of the reluctant retreat from China’s market since the founding of PRC in 1949, BAT returned to the country for the alluring market and profit after China announced the reform and opening-up to the foreign investors and traders once again.

Nowadays BAT has a branch office which operates business in Shanghai, and its former branch office site with nearly 100-year history in Zibo City, east China’s Shandong Province, has been reserved as a memory [sic].

[The] Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), a frenetic and chaotic mass campaign, remained as a deep memory for Shanghai seniors. Many Shanghai youngsters in that era became enthusiastic Red Guards, Chairman Mao’s loyal soldiers.

Dai Fumin, born in 1949, was one of them. With the grand adoration to Mao, he went to Beijing by train with classmates in 1966 and was excited as [he was] met by Mao. Near half a century passed, Dai became an old man. Nowadays he leads a totally different life from that time.

His daughter named Dai Yiyun, who was born in 1980, quited [sic] her former job as a designer working in a company from 9:00 to 17:00 every day and now serves as a tourism consultor [sic] in a private travel agency.

“I hate to be restrained and prefer the current job which provides me more freedom. I’m the master of my own life.” She said.

As for Dai Fumin, he goes to a stock exchange office near his house everyday after retired [sic]. As a senior trader, this is his “job” at present.

“These are two different eras in Shanghai. Both of them have impressed my life deeply.” Dai said.

Despite enjoying their modern life in Shanghai, which is believed as [sic] the most western-style city in China, some people also get on well with the “red life”.

There are more than ten thousand CPC members who work in foreign-invested companies all over Shanghai laying their CPC member files in Expo Group-Shanghai Foreign Service Co,.Ltd. With high salary [sic] and dealing with foreigners every day, they are enthusiastic about taking part in different promoting activities held by their CPC branches in their spare time, such as forums and visits to monuments of CPC revolutionary martyrs.

This is Shanghai, a dynamically fashionable economic center with the “Red” character flowing in its blood, drawn into the whirlpool of capital and revolution for nearly one century. It also looks like a diamond with many sides in which you can see different colors…

Edited by Zuo Shou

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Carrefour China stores busted for overcharging, refusing to hike wages – over 10+ years, its Shanghai workers’ pay was virtually frozen [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Corruption, Employment, Labor, Law enforcement, Shanghai, Trade unions on January 31, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

SHANGHAI, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) — For deceptive pricing practices and refusing to hike wages for more than a decade, French retailer Carrefour has come under criticism in China but is taking measures to soothe public anger.

According to media reports, the salaries of more than 6,000 employees at about 20 Carrefour stores in Shanghai barely changed between 1998 and 2010 while the average salary of Shanghai workers more than tripled during the period.

In addition, the retailing giant has refused to hike wages, declining to accept the collective wage negotiation mechanism that has been practised in China since the 1990s.

Sources with the Shanghai Municipal Federation of Trade Unions said Carrefour officials and representatives of the company’s trade union discussed issues again Thursday.

The results of the closed-door negotiations are not likely to be revealed anytime soon, and observers remain suspicious about the talks.

“China does not have a compulsory punishment system for those businesses that reject the collective wage negotiation mechanism,” said Xia Yongmei, executive vice chairwoman of the trade union in Shanghai’s Xinzhuang industrial zone.

The French retailer is involved in another scandal, too – 11 of its China stores were caught overcharging customers for products including cotton underwear and tea.

The stores must pay a fine five times the amount they overcharged, or 500,000 yuan (75,757.5 U.S. dollars) if they can’t calculate that amount, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

The company has apologized and offered to refund customers five times the difference between the price charged and the one on the label.

Article link here

China rejects double standards on clean energy [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, China-US relations, Energy, Trade unions, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, WTO on October 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

October 21, 2010

At the request of the United Steelworkers Union, the Office of United States Trade Representative announced recently it would launch a Section 301 investigation against Chinese policies and measures in the field of clean energy.

In its September application, the United Steelworkers criticized the Chinese government for threatening employment opportunities and the international competitiveness of the U.S. new-energy sector with measures such as control on key raw materials, government subsidies, discriminatory law as well as technology transfer, which created favorable policies worth of millions of U.S. dollars for Chinese enterprises.

China’s Ministry of Commerce responded to the investigation, calling the charges groundless and saying the United States is irresponsible for launching such an investigation.  The ministry said China’s policies and measures on clean energy are fully consistent with WTO rules.  The 301 investigation set a bad example of trade protectionism to the rest of the world, and China will safeguard its legal rights according to WTO rules.

An analysis on the situation can reveal that the U.S. charges are nothing but self-protection. The so-called control on key raw materials refers to the export restriction of rare earth minerals. As a matter of fact, China exported rare earth materials at a very low price over a long time, and it is justifiable for China to make some changes to its rare earth export policy as a measure to ensure its sustainable development.  Furthermore, rare earth minerals are not the only materials that support the development of the new-energy industry.

The charge of discrimination against foreign enterprises also does not tally with the fact. The reason why foreign companies have lost the bids is because their asking price is much higher than Chinese enterprises. Foreign companies like to directly find the buyers rather than through bidding.

Furthermore, the United States is guiltier of "large government subsidies" to their own sector. According to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. renewable energy industry alone has received a massive subsidy of 25.5 billion US dollars.  The Chinese government’s subsidy to domestic renewable energy is nothing compared to that of the United States.

On the eve of the U.S. mid-term election, United Steelworkers, one of the most active workers’ organizations, carries a major influence on elections and decision-making.  Analysts have said that the White House directed the charges at China by commencing an investigation to divert attention and gain more votes.

From a long-term standpoint, charges by the United States in the field of clean energy hint at the ongoing global war on new energy strategy…

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Bigger role for China’s trade unions ‘to reduce strikes’ [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Labor, Trade unions on September 20, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

September 10, 2010

A senior trade union official blamed “inefficient” grassroots trade unions in private and overseas-funded firms for a spate of strikes over the past few months.

Guo Chen, of the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), pledged to boost union power in these firms to address an increasing number of labor disputes involving demands for higher wages across the country.

Guo, a deputy division chief overseeing grassroots organizations with the capacity building department under the ACFTU, said helping unions boost their negotiating power was a priority.

“Helping private and overseas-funded companies nationwide to establish trade unions and boost workers’ collective negotiating power over wages will be our key task,” she told China Daily.

Last year, about 684,000 cases were reported to labor arbitration committees, while more than 319,000 labor dispute cases were heard by the courts, according to statistics from the ACFTU.

Disputes were almost always related to pay demands, and the number of disputes has been soaring in the first half of this year, ACFTU spokesman Li Shouzhen said.

Sometimes disputes can take a tragic turn as in the suicides over the past few months among employees of Taiwan-based Foxconn at its manufacturing compound in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, over working conditions.

A spate of strikes also hit foreign-funded companies such as Japanese carmakers Honda and Toyota over demands for higher pay.

These events “showed that their trade unions were not efficient”, Guo said.

A trade union should not only serve as a bridge to mediate disputes between employees and employer, but also improve collective negotiations on wages, Guo said.

She said the democratic election of union leaders was a good way to ensure better functioning of grassroots trade unions.

“Through democratic elections, union leaders who represent the interests of employees can really stand out,” she said.

Many union leaders are appointed and paid by the companies whose workers they were commissioned to protect.

For employers who are not willing to sit down and talk about wages with their workers, a properly functioning trade union should help management realize the significance of collective negotiations, Guo said.

“If the Honda auto parts plant in Foshan had negotiated with workers and reached an agreement on a wage mechanism, employees might not have resorted to strikes,” Guo said.

Setting up trade unions in private and foreign companies would help workers’ voices be heard by employers and also safeguard their legal rights, she added.

About 80 percent of enterprises in China are privately run or foreign owned, employing about 75 percent of the country’s total urban workforce, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

By the end of last year, 79 percent of overseas-funded companies and 78.5 percent of private companies had set up trade unions, ACFTU figures showed.

ACFTU plans to have trade unions established in 90 percent of the country’s corporate units by 2012, Guo said.

The target for private and overseas-funded companies was under discussion and would be released in October, she said.

At the end of last year, the country had 1.84 million grassroots trade unions with 226 million members, according to official figures.

But Guo said some difficulties still remained in empowering trade unions in overseas-funded companies.

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