China’s independent labor unions face growing repression under President Xi Jinping, Reuters reports:
The number of strikes more than doubled in 2014 to 1,378 from 656 the year before, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group. April saw the biggest strike in decades, when about 40,000 employees of Adidas and Nike supplier Yue Yuen went on strike to demand social insurance payments.All of which is making work for labor activists such as Zeng Feiyang and Zhang Zhiru, while social media platforms such as WeChat, QQ and Sina Weibo are making it easier for word of industrial action to spread.It is also increasing activists’ run-ins with the police and others in a country where officials see strikes as a threat to social stability, and investors often see workers’ rights as a threat to their wallets. […]“The crackdown last year was the toughest in history,” says Chen Huihai, director of worker training at leading labor dispute law firm Laowei. “2015 is going to be even tougher.”
From the state’s point of view, organized unions are a potentially dangerous breeding ground for dissent. Take this news as one more sign that Xi is battening down the hatches, expecting tougher times ahead for China’s economy.