On July 1st South Korea's new Law on Non-Regular Work came into effect. The principle of the law was to protect non-regular workers, but in practice the way in which it has been put together and implemented has led to protection only for a few and increased precariousness for many.
A while ago I was able to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea. I haven't had much time since then to sit down and write up my reflections, but I have to give a short presentation on it in a few days so I thought I would put up a draft of my presentation as well as some pictures. Any comments, of course, would be highly appreciated as well.
(Writer note: This article is also posted at Global Voices Online)
Last year Macau has a recorded 17% GDP growth, the gambling and tourist industry is blooming. However, the May Day demonstration in the past few years has been getting more and more violent. This year, it has resulted in 5 open gunshots by the police in the city center among the crowd. There is one suspected injured. However, the Macau mainstream media has downplayed the issue and kept defending the police's action.
The demonstration was organized by 6 citizen groups including independent unions and rights of abode organization. Its themes were "anti-corruption, improve livelihood, reduce imported labour, stop illegal worker, housing right, family reunion right and harmonious society".
May day parade, organized by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and joined by more than 30 unions and organizations, called for legislating a minimum wage, regulating working hours, implementing collective bargaining, opposing subcontracting system and improving occupational safety and health. HKCTU said that more than 2000 people joined the march. I joined the march as well and want to know what is the main message in the march, which I think, highlights the goals of the current labor movements. In the rally, the HKCTU first cheered up all of workers to show solidarity and got prepared for fighting altogether. Various unions and organizations gathered in the Victoria park and waved their banners to express their identities and claims.
Translated from: Hong Kong Economic Journal 2007.3.29 - Reading China
Over the past few years, there are many controversies over the foreign owned fast food restaurants such as KFC and McDonald's in China. Recently, some part-time workers accuse them of unfair treatment including offering low wage, requiring long work hours, unequal agreement, and refusing to give workers labour contract.
According to an investigation of the working condition of 14,000 white collar workers in Beijing, 52% of respondents answer “always work overtime” and only 4% answer “rarely work overtime”. 73% are not paid for overtime by their employers who violate labor law stipulating it as 150% of the basic salary. Some argue that there is an oversupply of university degree holders.
In 1998, only 1.084 million people were admitted to university. There were 2.158 million university students. Since 1999, there has been a rapid expansion of university enrollment. From 2004-2006, the intake increases from 4 million to 5.3 million. In 2006, about 1.24 million university graduates failed to get a job. In 2006, of a total of 4.13 million university graduates, 66.10% earned 1000-2000 yuan monthly.
A labor dispute broke out and soon resolved last month at Nicaragua’s largest employer in the private sector, the Taiwanese investment Nien Hsing Textile.
The factory Nien Hsing Garments S.A., located in Managua’s Las Mercedes Free Trade Zone, is one of eleven Nien Hsing factories in Nicaragua. The factory has been in operation for twelve years. There are approximately 2,500 workers in the factory. Currently the factory produces only pants—jeans, slacks and shorts—for Blue Riders, Wrangler Jeans, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, Faded Glory and Sonoma Carpenter.
"China" Union of Post Office protested against renaming the company as "Taiwan" Post Company Limited. Many newspapers published the picture of workers kicking doors to protest. This makes me think of what the unions in Vietnam, a country less developed econmically than Taiwan, are doing.
In October 2005, Vietnam government announced raising minimum wage of foreign owned company in a lofty tone. But the effective date was set in April 2006. After widely media coverage, there was an uproar in Ho Chih Minh City. Worker strikes spreaded gradually and affected enterprises owned by Japanese, European, Korean and Taiwanese. There are still scattered strikes even in the year of 2007. Many Taiwanese businessmen doubt: Is the Vietnamese government behind the wave of strikes?
Last week(Feb 8, 2007), Kim Youngkon and Kim Donghae (husband and wife couple), visited Hong Kong to network with local worker organizations for consolidating East Asian workers solidarity.
I had not prepared for the chat as I had not heard of Mr and Mrs Kim's visit before and I had little background about their trip. After learning their critique of labour movement and their proposal for East Asia labour Union, I decided to develop the informal chat into this interview.
Kim Youngkon is now a lecturer in University. In 1972, he left his study and became an air conditioner worker (underground labour activist) until 1987, when the military government had given way to civil government. Since then, he worked in labour organization as activist for 10 years.
DISNEY Refuses Responsibility for 800 Laid-Off Chinese Workers Students and labor groups protested outside the DISNEY Hong Kong office
Shenzhen-based Huang Xing Factory used to receive up to 80% of its orders from DISNEY and manufactured branded merchandise such as Mickey key chains and purses. It however had lost a substantial amount of the orders from DISNEY soon after SACOM drew the attention of mass media to sweatshop labor at Huang Xing in September 2006.