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China: Labor disputes increase as manufacturing growth cools off and employers leave without paying obligations

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26 August 2015

China: As Manufacturing Growth Cools Off, Worker Protest Mounts

Author: Cole Stangler, International Business Times (USA)

Labor strife is brewing in China. And it may well get worse with the country’s economic slowdown...The tightly controlled state media does not publish information about labor disputes and reports from independent sources are hard to verify. But the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, a nongovernmental organization, publishes a log of worker strife, which shows that this month, for instance, protests shook garment and electronics factories in the coastal province of Guangdong…

“It’s not going to make it any easier for underwear made in China to compete with Bangladesh or Cambodia,” Friedman says. “The wages just aren’t even close.” Higher land costs and new regulations also factor into the mounting costs of business, he says…

One of the biggest sources of recent labor strife, says Slaten from China Labor Watch, is when employers “up and leave” without compensating their employees. These disputes arise when owners close up shop or relocate in China without paying back wages, benefits or pension obligations. In these cases, the owners also sometimes neglect to pay severance based on seniority -- something that is mandatory under Chinese labor law…

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