Bird’s-Eye: Logically enough, workers in Asia want a larger slice of the billions of (your currency goes here) that western corporations are making on their cheap labour. So while Vietnam’s mix of communism and capitalism is thus far immune, there are strikes in China, in Thailand, in Bangladesh. We look why this is good news, and note how Cory Doctorow’s latest book For the Win (“part thriller, part economics lesson, and a rallying cry to those in the world who still believe that workers can be a powerful force for social change”) saw it coming. How does he keep doing that? (Free book download here)
Police in Bangladesh using bamboo staves, teargas and water cannon fought with textile workers demanding back pay and an immediate rise in monthly wages on the streets of Dhaka today. Witnesses said at least 30 people, mainly workers producing garments for global brands, were injured. Pictures showed children apparently being beaten. Ten policemen were also hurt.
* Thai Workers Out Of Poverty, Into Dissent Washington Post
San Silawat has three dogs, two cows and a parrot. He grows rice and spring onions on a small plot of land. But he’s hardly a pauper: He’s added a second floor to his house and built a blue-tiled patio. His son plays computer games in the front room. His daughter recently bought a Nissan pickup truck. His granddaughter studies nursing in Bangkok. For all his relatively good fortune, however, San is certain about one thing: “Life is definitely getting worse,” said the 62-year-old farmer, grumbling about the price of gasoline, school fees and a political and economic system he sees as rigged in favor of the rich.
* Workers In China Grasp The Power Of The Strike The Observer
Zhang Liwen found out that she was about to go on strike over a breakfast of steamed buns and congee rice porridge at her factory dormitory. Fifteen minutes later, she was taking part in industrial action for the first time in her life….The next day she and the rest of the 1,000-strong workforce repeated the demonstration at the Japanese-owned factory, which makes parts for Toyota and Honda. This time, the corporate union begged them to go back to work. Again they refused.
* These Strikes Are Good For China – And For The World Seumas Milne The Guardian
In a nation where strikes are discouraged and often barely reported, the response of the authorities to the latest wave of stoppages has verged on the supportive. The chairman of the state-owned partner of Honda and Toyota, for instance, insisted the workers’ demands were “reasonable”. The party’s Global Times warned the strikes showed the necessity of “organised labour protection”, complaining “ordinary workers” had received the “smallest share of economic prosperity” from China’s opening to the world market.