Labour protests in China increase rapidly amid economic slowdown

Washington, Feb 17 (IANS) Labour protests in China have increased rapidly since August of last year, according to rights groups, especially in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year, which began late last week, a media report said.

Labour protests more than tripled in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to data collected by New York-based international rights group Freedom House’s China Dissent Monitor, which tracks protests in China, VOA reported.

Analysts say this unrest is linked to poor working conditions and China’s ongoing economic difficulties, the report said.

The China Dissent Monitor recorded 777 labour protests in China between September and December 2023, compared to 245 in the same period of 2022.

Independent data from the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, which promotes Chinese workers’ rights, recorded an additional 183 protests between January 1 and February 3, 2024, including 40 in Guangdong province alone, VOA reported.

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Kevin Slaten, who leads the China Dissent Monitor, said worker protests are often linked to wage disputes and occupational safety.

Li Qiang, Founder and Executive Director of New York-based China Labour Watch, which advocates for the Chinese labour movement, said that in addition to China’s economic slowdown, an “implosion” in the real-estate sector and reduced manufacturing was also a factor, VOA reported.

“China’s high-level economic problems ultimately set the foundation of the increase in labour protests this year,” Li said, adding, “Due to the decrease of manufacturing orders, among other things, a lot of companies face financial challenges that trickle down to workers,” VOA reported.

–IANS

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