Friday, October 13, 2006

Proposed Labor Law in China Angers Corporations Seeking Cheap, Exploitable Workers

The New York Times today was crammed full of blogworthy news, starting with this front page article concerning China's plans to draft a law strengthening labor unions and ending labor abuse.

The reaction by American corporations was a real eye-opener as far as seeing who has the interests of working people at heart. Granted, China's move is intended to reduce the chances of an uprising by workers. However, this does not diminish the obvious greed of corporations seeking and benefitting from underpaid and exploited workers.

The move, which underscores the government’s growing concern about the widening income gap and threats of social unrest, is setting off a battle with American and other foreign corporations that have lobbied against it by hinting that they may build fewer factories here.

The conflict with the foreign corporations is significant partly because it comes at a time when labor, energy and land costs are rising in this country, all indications that doing business in China is likely to get much more expensive in the coming years.

Some corporations have complained that the law smacks of socialism and borrows from labor laws in "union friendly" countries like France and Germany.
The skirmish has pitted the American Chamber of Commerce — which represents corporations including Dell, Ford, General Electric, Microsoft and Nike — against labor activists and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the Communist Party’s official union organization.

The workers’ advocates say that the proposed labor rules — and more important, enforcement powers — are long overdue, and they accuse the American businesses of favoring a system that has led to widespread labor abuse.

One of the proposals in the law would make it harder to lay off workers. Some companies have stated this alone might cause them to slow their investments in China.
“This is really two steps backward after three steps forward,” said Kenneth Tung, Asia-Pacific director of legal affairs at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Hong Kong and a legal adviser to the American Chamber of Commerce here.

I have an idea. Move the jobs back to Mexico and other Central American nations, pay the workers a living wage, and perhaps we won't need that Big Wall. After all, what is China doing for us? I'll get back to that answer later.

Crossposted at B3

No comments: