China’s workers are not convinced by their government’s new stance, that low economic growth is “normal.” It’s a nightmarish scenario for China, warns International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe in his new column, Labour unrest surges as China’s economy slows. An excerpt:
As China’s economy slows to a crawl, the Communist Party is facing one of its worst nightmares: a militant labour movement.
The Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, which collects data on strikes and lockouts in China as well as promoting workers’ rights, says there has been a dramatic upturn in labour unrest across the country. As the country’s economy slowed to its lowest growth level since 1990, strikes and protests in the last three months of 2014 were three times those of the same period the year before.
“The dramatic upturn can be partially explained by the increased use of cheap smartphones and social media as tools by workers to get news of their protest action to a wider audience,” says the latest report by the group.
“But at the same time there is clearly an increase in labour activism in response primarily to the economic slowdown in China over the last year or so.”
For at least two decades the Beijing government has agreed with outside analysts that China needs to maintain an annual economic growth rate of at least eight per cent to provide jobs for the estimated 30 million young people entering the workforce every year and to maintain social stability.
But as the growth in gross domestic product slipped to 7.4 per cent last year and is likely to hit only seven per cent this year, China’s leaders are trying to persuade the country’s nearly 800-million-strong workforce that low growth is the “new normal.” Log in first to read Labour unrest surges as China’s economy slows (subscription required*).
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