China ‘right to strike’ – no gain for workers

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Bloomberg (4/8/10) report that workers in Guangdong province may soon have the ‘right to strike.’

“The proposed law is seen as a trial balloon before a possible countrywide rollout. The rules: If one-fifth or more of a company’s staff ask for collective bargaining, then management must discuss workers’ grievances. Once workers demand negotiations, the union must elect worker representatives. Until now, union representatives came from management ranks.... For six decades, allowing workers to picket and disrupt production has been officially illegal and subject to punishment. Under the Guangdong proposal, as long as workers first try negotiating and don’t engage in violence, they are allowed to strike.”

The problem for Chinese capitalism is that, regardless of their ‘rights’, workers have already been launching determined waves of struggle against the ruthless exploitation of the bosses and their state. In the past the Chinese state has very often relied on repression to deal with workers’ struggles, now it seems to be adopting the methods of democratic capitalism to undermine workers’ efforts to defend their interests.

The Guangdong experiment is no advance for workers. The legal framework will be a fetter on workers’ energies. As with workers elsewhere, workers in China need to hold mass meetings to discuss the needs of their collective struggle, to elect delegates who can be recalled at any time, to discuss the best means to spread the struggle to other workers. What the capitalists fear is when workers begin to express their solidarity outside the union framework.   Ishish 4/9/10

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