China Labor Awakening

Just as young people in Libya and Egypt, finding examples of self-determination outside their own country, have risen in revolt, so it seems that workers in China are realizing that eat-sleep-work has other options.  The worker need not simply bow and say yes to working conditions, pay-rates, safety, or hours.  Unions are of course banned, as many Corporatists in the US would like them to be, but spontaneous risings and minimalist, hidden, organizing have begun to be visible in recent months.

The latest to hit the news couriers is in southern China at a Taiwan owned manufacturing plant, Foxconn, for huge, and hugely popular US gadgets — the iPhone and the X Box.

CNN reported that a mass suicide had been threatened. 

Microsoft is investigating a report that workers at a Chinese plant that manufactures its Xbox game systems have threatened mass suicide in a pay dispute, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the company’s Hong Kong office.

CNN has not been able to confirm details of the dispute, but Foxconn, the plant owner, and Microsoft did respond to inquiries.

Bloomberg reported, apparently the same unrest, without going to the suicide claim.  Though there was some thought it was over working conditions, what appears in all reports is worker unhappiness at transfers being offerred (imposed?), and resistance to being moved.  Pretty small potatoes it might seem, but indicative of how fraught conditions are, and the growing willingness to stand up and be counted, by semi-skilled workers where a generation ago everyone bowed and accepted the whip on the back.

On the U.S. side Apple has announced its very belated joining of the Fair Labor Association.

Eye on the game.  It’s not over yet