Saturday, October 14, 2006

Corporations Oppose Labor Reforms in China.


Unions, yes Labor Unions, remember them?, are all watching China to see how the possibly biggest confrontation between labor and capital in many, many years unfolds. According to the NY Times article :

SHANGHAI, Oct. 12 — China is planning to adopt a new law that seeks to crack down on sweatshops and protect workers’ rights by giving labor unions real power for the first time since it introduced market forces in the 1980’s.
The NY Times resports that workers have already set up unions in all 66 Wal Mart outlets in China and are looking to do the same with companies like Kodak and Dell.

I noticed this story was quickly taken off the front page after I read it online and a followup story was published the following day that skewed the emphasis away from U.S. Corporations opposing these basic workers rights and towards a depiction of the government-sanctioned All-China Federation of Trade Unions as wanting to exert conrol over the work force in China. In other words the bad guy went from U.S. Corporations one day to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions the next.

Tim Costello is a member of Global Labor Strategies and their analysis of the story is the one to read.
“‘You have big corporations opposing basically modest reforms,” said Tim Costello, an official of the group and a longtime labor union advocate. “This flies in the face of the idea that globalization and corporations will raise standards around the world.’”
Their report goes on to say that:
This corporate campaign contradicts the justifications that have been given for public policies that encourage corporations to invest in China. US based corporations have repeatedly argued that they are raising human and labor rights standards abroad. But US based corporations are trying to block legislation designed to improve the remuneration, treatment, health and safety, and other standards of Chinese workers.

Where is all this leading? If the standard of living of Chinese workers is raised to a comparable world level will where will the corporations go next?
The corporations can't argue on the one hand that they are lifting Chinese workers out of poverty and on the other hand oppose basic labor reform. And the U.S. government is going to find it more difficult to uphold this contradiction through policy. Their biggest fear is that workers everywhere are going to figure this out and the words that strike fear into the hearts of the Corporate class will take on new, real meaning when resurrected. Workers of the world, unite!



Blogger ChinaLawBlog said...

The multinationals are essentially concerned with two things: being treated less favorably than the domestic companies and being unable to fire bad workers.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Wake Up America Podcast said...

Oh, right and that's ALL they're concerned about.

1:57 PM  

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