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China’s Auto Workers: “Deja vu all over again?” June 11, 2010

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Law, Ethics & Society.

Much to the consternation of the Chinese government, Chinese workers at Honda’s factory have gone on strike and are demanding their own local labor union.  Their issues of low wages and poor working conditions are reminiscent of the early days of the labor movement in our country.  History continually repeats itself.  Lesson learned: you can only take advantage of large groups of human beings for so long before they demand their rights.  John Locke’s theories of natural law and social contract ring true today.  The problem is that in China, the people never agreed to the “contract” under which they are living.



1. Jeff - June 11, 2010

June 11 (Bloomberg) — Shenzhen Jufeng Handicraft Co. was so eager to ensure employees returned to work after February’s Lunar New Year holiday that it threw them a party, handed out gifts and bused workers to homes 1,000 kilometers away.

“We needed to do more to make them stay,” said Sunny Jia, sales manager of the Shenzhen-based company, which makes linen, leather bags and cabinets for such customers as Oscar Collections Ltd. in the U.K. “All our customers wanted orders shipped within a month.”

China, once an abundant provider of low-cost workers, is heading for the so-called Lewis turning point, when surplus labor evaporates, pushing up wages, consumption and inflation, said Huang Yiping, former chief Asia economist at Citigroup Inc. The result may prompt manufacturers to switch to cheaper countries such as India and Vietnam.

“If the first decade of the 21st century saw China rapidly rising as a global manufacturing center, the post-Lewis turning point could see the opposite,” said Huang, an economics professor at Peking University in Beijing. “Global manufacturing activities concentrated in China today may find their way elsewhere.”

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