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(en) Indonesia, anarkis.org: Against Idols Representative: Class Struggle in China Beyond the Great Narrative Leftists [machine translation]

Date Sat, 13 Feb 2016 12:40:31 +0200

This article is an overview of the impact and causes of labor strikes and riots in China over the last 10 years, and how it is supported by a number of leftists and NGOs was not enough to advance the class struggle in the country. ---- Introduction ---- P erjuangan social in the workplace and elsewhere in China has increased in recent years. Because it is limited by state repression and capitalist, this struggle takes place without an effective trade union representation. Because the face of the crisis and the specter of social unrest, the state capital and reorganize unmatchable repressive strategy and introduced a form of mediation to regain control class recomposition process. Meanwhile, trade unionists and left-wing academics who support the struggle of workers in China to push for the formation of unions' independent ', which follows the grand narrative of the left , which is an increase of class forces through the workers' representatives in a capitalist state.

That way, NGOs and leftists have to take risks: to legitimize the capitalist structure (reformed). To understand the potential of social struggle and the parties involved in strategic decisions, we must look at the historical dynamics of social change, in particular, the role of elected representatives (trade unions) and the forces of capitalism that serve to integrate and mempasifkan struggle in the country. This paper argues that the forms of labor organizing autonomous in China can use its potential to create profound social change while avoiding the mistakes made by movements elsewhere.

global conditions

As a result of the global struggle in the 1960s and 1970s and the economic crisis, capital change Keynesiannya worldwide strategy and launched a counter attack, for example, through a policy of austerity, cuts in wages and industrial relocation. This led to industrial relocation processes and areas of new industrialization, rural-urban migration is massive, and proletarization in some parts of the world, particularly in East Asia. In the countries of parents who are 'core' capitalist countries once the socialist countries in Eastern Europe, as well as some developing countries, classes of the old workers who have employment contracts and benefits are relatively safe now attacked [1] and class the new workers are relatively difficult labor conditions was established. However, neither the attack on the class composition of the old and the establishment of industries and new global production chains still can not solve the problem of capital.

In this case, the crisis in the late 2000s is an extension of the crisis of the 1970s. Only two years after the outbreak of the global crisis in 2008, we have witnessed a wave of uprisings, strikes and other forms of resistance worldwide. Overall, there was more violence today than in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which is the last phase of a wave of social rebellion global sort of thing. [2] In many struggles that occurred recently, the activity of the grass roots, swaorganisasi and social anger encourage the creation of social processes more participatory and egalitarian, for example, in 2011 during the Arab uprising, Spanish movement M15, the Greek uprising, and the Occupy movement. At the same time, the "left" institutionalized-that often want to get the function and role in the state apparatus-continued to show interest and potential to re-legitimize the state were reformed and reorganized the capitalist structure. The response of the all negarawi adds organizational and structural weaknesses in the struggle, and narrow the space to build the future in the present: the social revolution.

Recomposition in China

In China, the crisis of a system of 'socialist' peaked in the 1970s. Reply wave of struggle and capitalist attacks worldwide in the same period the previous encourage coalition is unlikely to occur between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with private capital and state. Reforms that began in 1970 made China become a 'factory of the world' in the late 1990s. The working class parents to decompose through restructuring and downsizing industries of the country and the destruction of the 'rice bowl besi'-set of social security for urban workers. Meanwhile, industrialization and rural-urban migration form the labor market is segmented and the class of migrant workers is substantial, ie 200 to 300 million, which is exploited by foreign capital and Chinese and controlled and repressed by the state through the control measures of political and social tight.

Until now, the process of proletarianization of migrants has not been completed, because the statute of household registration ( hukou ) does not allow migrants to settle in the city. 'The acquisition of land' which caused farmers around the world have lost their land and had to migrate and sell their labor at workplaces, the new capitalist China is not repeated in the same way. In contrast, the majority of migrant workers in China, the process of their return to the village and land plots were confronted by the reality of rural low income, unemployment, lack of opportunities, and subjective choice to choose the city life 'modern'. [3]

New struggles

Industrialization, migration, and proletarization have changed the social landscape in China. As elsewhere, the migration is the process of mobility forced toward the goal of capitalist (to perform paid work or without pay if capital needs), but migration also include elements of labor mobility which is autonomous to escape from misery, exploitation, and patriarchy in the area of origin. In China, the migration has triggered a battle field that is still taking place in all social relations based on gender, generation, and classes are struggling to get more social freedom and control over their lives. [4] The majority of social struggle that occurred in China in the last two decades centered around labor issues, corruption, land seizures, or environmental issues, and social struggle was led by the urban and migrant workers, farmers, and even the 'middle class'. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the old working class to build the great struggle against layoffs and deteriorating living conditions. However, it can only delay the process, not prevent it. In the same period, farmers fought against the corrupt state and party officials, land theft, and high taxes, thus forcing countries to reduce taxes, but still remains a serious problem in rural areas.

The struggles of the new migrant workers demanding economic improvements increased throughout the 2000s and peaked in 2010. [5] It is described as "the class struggle without class organization" [6] because he is a class-based, but the organized autonomously, ie without labor organizations institutionalized. Riots includes forms of struggle such illegal wildcat strikes by industrial workers in workplaces, medium-sized or large, major riots involving proletariat migrant (wage and non-wage), demonstrations, sit-ins, and roadblocks, as well as various forms of resistance daily in the workplace as a slowdown in job purpose, the number of workers who are absent work, or sabotage. [7] more recently, workers fight the larger bustling industrial centers of major new along the east coast of China (Pearl River Delta, Yangtze Delta, and Beijing / Tianjin), and also flooded industrial relocation path towards a new inland zones such as Chongqing, Zhengzhou and Chengdu.

changing patterns

With the increasing number of struggles, content, pattern, and shape of the organization was changed. In the first half of the 2000s, most of these struggles do to maintain basic standards or against human rights violations, and is based on a form of kinship between social organization. This struggle is usually limited to a single company (one village, the environment, etc.), And this limitation is called "activism mobile". [8] In the second half of the 2000s, more struggles to lift the demands of the offensive on the economic recovery, using the organization social outside kinship, and proved to be contagious, which encourages action imitation, strikes that spread like a domino effect, participation is more, the forms of democracy from the bottom up and coordinated by a growing number of workers militant and activist networks are experienced. [9] the workplace as well as dormitories and villages outside the zone of migrant workers in factories and construction sites into sites for the social organization of this struggle. Skilled workers, foremen male and female supervisors play an important role in many struggle to use your skills and position to organize a protest. In certain cases, they are known as lawyers and journalists 'citizens', often the (former) migrant workers, obtaining legal and other skills to support the workers in their struggle against the company and help disseminate information and experience. [10]

New generations

Workers today are more able to cope with the problem alone, confident and competent to hold protests and strikes. It is connected with the sustainability of the social generation of migrant workers is different. Generation first migrated to urban zone in the 1980s and 1990s, have no industrial work experience and life of the city, and plan to return to the village. This generation was launched only isolated incidents of labor unrest. Generation second , migrated in the late 1990s and 2000s, have known the experience of others in the city. This generation has not learned to farm, wants to settle in the city, and is able to use the internet and mobile phones for social organization. Like the case of industrialization and the migration of others around the world, are the second generation began to protest and strike. [11] We now see generations of the third who do not want to do industrial work again but get white-collar jobs. They dream of owning your own business, being able to buy cars and electronic gadgets, and have time for family and recreation. Some of them managed to carry out their dreams, while the majority remained impoverished by low-wage jobs in factories, on construction sites, in shops, restaurants, as domestic servants or security guards. This experience led to disappointment, dissatisfaction and anger. Today, many migrant workers from second and third generation saw social mobilization, including a strike, as a legitimate form of resistance. Knowledge of organizing the protests have spread in their environment through labor groups and militant activists. This does not mean that they are all overcome the social fragmentation that they experience and engage in collective struggle - but a lot of things done successfully than ever before.

State and capital strategy

The new struggle is a threat both to the regime and the global division of labor. Model worker's as explosive profit engine of China and the backbone of the global production of cheap consumer products for other world regions and enables the core countries to press ahead with austerity programs and cuts in wages. Now it may end. The main strategy of the state and capital to face the scourge of the working class struggle has been fruitful 'improvements' space' to run away from the fighting, and that is the relocation of factories to inland China (or countries such as Vietnam). This strategy was only partially successful because there is an increasing struggle of the workers in the new industrial centers in recent years. The state also launched an attack on workers to weaken their struggle through (1) the enforcement of the internal division of labor through migration law and the separation of gender-based labor market; (2) repression by state agencies, including the arrest of the people who called the leader of the group and police attacks on protesters. At the same time, the state tried to defuse social tension through (3) direct intervention into a conflict that could potentially destabilize the system through various state agencies, the local authorities and the labor bureau, through tactics such as intimidation and arrest up to the promises and cash compensation; and passing (4) distribution of worker complaints over labor law and mediation in the workplace, which track a ritual for the complaints and demands of workers whose function is to make the conflict is a problem individual and weaken the workers in conflict.

The general role of unions

All these forms play a role in inhibiting the struggle of the workers but does not prevent an uprising that occurred recently as a wave of strikes in 2010 in the automotive industry. As a result of dealing with more protests, the state wants to build safety valves to channel more social pressure. One focus is to make the union as a mediating force (during and outside of collective bargaining) that can assist the management company and the state to control the workers' discontent. Unions can not be understood as a strategy 'from above' alone or as an organization 'from below' alone. Historically, trade unions and workers' discontent is based on the willingness of workers to express it. States try to represent the power of workers and use their ability to stop production or refuse to work in the negotiations to get a good deal: higher wages, job security etc. States serves as a mediating body between capital and labor within the framework of the capitalist-but not beyond it-and therefore require the goodwill of the camps opposed to comply with the agreements reached. To remain acceptable to capital, the unions must prove its ability to control the activities of independent labor undesirable; to maintain the confidence of the workers, unions must demonstrate their openness to the problems of workers and produce a number of successes in the collective bargaining process. However, during weak labor, capital may think that the representatives and the union is not required and the cost is too expensive; but when the strong workers and workers' struggles inhibit the production and threatening social peace, the management often require the attendance of representatives of workers from the workplace or unions officially recognized. [12]

Death of open space unions

Independent workers' organizations are repressed in China, and the China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) official closely associated with the ruling CCP and against labor militancy. Because of his involvement with the state and capital, ACFTU unions are not received by workers as their representative body, and can not effectively intervene and mediate in the workers' struggle. Therefore, workers have limited space to organize and fight independently. The struggle to encourage concessions such as improvement of working conditions and wages, and has expanded the space for social activities against the repressive state so that the CCP saw it as a 'threat to social stability' (which means a threat to the rule of the CCP itself).

To deform the autonomous organization of workers, the CCP requires union structure effectively controlled by the state, so the CCP began to allow a bit of reform in the ACFTU as an experiment through collective bargaining and more participation of workers at union level company-as happened in the struggle of the most prominent for several Last year: in 2010 following a strike at the Honda plant in Foshan, and in 2013 after many struggles in factories Foxconn.

However, the country faces a dilemma because there is a possibility that the government is more tolerant attitude towards any kind of organizing workers will encourage a more collective protests and led to more coordination and demands for political change, and it may be difficult for the government to stop the process. Therefore, it is very doubtful at this time whether the country would be going too far to legalize strike (led by the unions).

The larger narrative of the left

The strategy designed by the workers' struggle against the state institutions and the capital, but when it comes to integration and attacks against the struggle, the state and capital often rely on the power of collaboration 'leftist' from the inside and outside of the working class.

In China, some labor activists, officials of NGOs, and academic support (1) the formation of unions 'independent', or (2) reform of the ACFTU so as to fulfill the function as a representative body of workers. [13] Ironically, the two proposals are being promoted by the forces contradictory: a group that wants mempasifkan struggle, some even on behalf of the 'harmonious society' ala CCP, and groups that want to increase the tension of the struggle - but mistakenly interpret that trade unions are an organization that strengthens the power of the workers.

Why is the second group to make such a mistake? In the last 150 years, capitalism as a social relationship has proven to be very flexible in adapting to and integrating social conflicts, so the system can be stabilized and fundamental changes can be prevented. Capitalism often successfully integrate the left forces that entered the mobilization of the working class in the forms of bourgeois rule and capitalist ideology of progress and modernity. These forces often follow the larger narrative of the left who expressed the need for a bourgeois revolution before the proletarian revolution, the formation of 'working-class organizations' like the union (for "economic struggle") and the party of workers (for "political struggle"), which seized power in the country and establish a workers' state during the transition phase.

The narrative is based on a particular class composition, especially in Germany in the late 19th century and early 20th century, which form the main doctrines of the left, the Social Democrats and the Marxist-Leninist (no matter how different the main doctrines of this). In essence, this narrative serves as the ideology of capitalist development through industrialization, proletarization (Tayloris), the rule of less is more 'democratic' or authoritarian. [14] Today, after the collapse of socialism of the 20th century that is based on a class system of bureaucratic and repression political and social-democratic participation in democratic governance western capitalists, both looked worn as a political framework that is useful for social change, but the narrative is still very much alive as a political strategy among leftists today and lobby groups.

In China, the larger narrative of the left or variations are promoted not only by a minority of 'left' in the CCP who want to revitalize the state workers' Maoists are, but also by a number of 'left' opposition to support the mobilization and labor strikes, such as academics NGO specific remunerated groups (neo) Maoist, left academia etc.

Practical criticism in the struggle

Many rebellions and movements since the 1960s into a practical critique on the larger narrative of the left , the top of the 'socialism really exist' and the Social Democrats. This movement encourages rebellion and other forms of collectivity and self-empowerment that managed to resist the inability of the union or party officials, and have prompted initiatives to combat egalitarian division of labor that include gender, 'race', or skill. Moreover, these movements reject attachment to the power of the state and nationalism 'left' and choose a global perspective on social change.

It is the element of life of many struggles, recently during the movements of people's assembly in the town square in Spain and Greece and the Occupy movement. However, these elements do not prevent recovery of the system after the fight happen and stabilization of this exploitative system. For example, despite the massive mobilization of the working class, the uprising in Greece repeatedly channeled into formal organizations and the elections 'democratic'.

Activists have played a role in the failure of reformist tactics because they promote and uphold the representative idol shaped large formal organizations, although there is no historical evidence to support the idea that the formal organization of workers is a prerequisite for effective worker resistance. Unions or workers' parties usually established after a period of militancy. They embody channeling conflict into organizations, which often leads to loss of practical solidarity rather than gains. Conflicts are separated from those who are directly affected and involved, deprived of the workplace and on the streets, and 'settled' in the tables of negotiations and through the ballot box. [15]

However, criticism of the repression or channeling the struggle through the 'repair the capitalist' or weaken as a result of the strategy of the left is not enough. The struggle does not necessarily lead to a revolution if there is no intervention 'left'. State repression and the country's strategy to divide and distribute the movement had an impact, and, of course, the internal weakness plays a role, which is contradictory problems that exist inside / outside: the struggle for the improvement of social conditions within the capitalist framework, namely the use of union and collective bargaining or other similar form to negotiate with the enemy class vs. the struggle to abolish capitalism are constantly changing and reproduce the conditions of exploitation and oppression. As long as capitalism exists, all these elements will play a role in the struggle. Whether this leads to a revolutionary situation is highly dependent on the strength of those who rebelled and understanding of this power.

Therefore, any form of organizing workers according depends on the ability of workers to organize themselves in a way that enables them to empower themselves against capital, develop a perspective that goes beyond capitalist exploitation, and reject the forms of mediation and reintegration into capitalist development.

The strength of the workers

In analyzing the fundamental social change opportunities in China, we need to assess the strength of the workplace and the organization [16] of groups of different workers and investigate the disposition and action of workers in concrete struggles that are the basis for the recomposition of a working-class movement. Here is just a sketch on the matter:

Strength work (the ability to promote the interests of a person in the workplace through the cessation of production etc.) Among the working class in China has increased along with the development of industrial clusters, integration of workplace China in the global production chain, and the reorganization of work and production just-in-time , Most wave of strikes in 2010 centered on companies that have certain conditions. Circles other workers have a work force that is much less because of individualization, repression and control, such as the Domestic Workers. This reflects the technical composition of the working class of China is fragmented and various production regime creates a separate place for workers. This is an important obstacle to the spread and the growing struggle of the working class. Strength organizational has risen as far as many workers have learned how to organize the resistance and struggle (see above), but is still limited because of repressed by the government and weakened by government mediation tactics.

Workers outside the factory during the strike in 2014 in Guangdong province
Questions for change

Questions regarding the disposition and action of workers in the struggle that concrete can show recomposition political movement of the working class, but the questions have to go beyond analysis simply discuss political warfare, economic and ideological launched by the state and capital against the working class and the reaction of the against workers.

The struggle of migrant workers in particular still has the character of a somewhat temporary in China because of employment volatility and mobility of workers themselves. There are also some struggle that unites the urban workers, migrant workers, farmers and students. The increasing number of protests has undermined the legitimacy of the state of the CCP, but many workers still see the central state as the only institution that can increase living or working conditions when capitalist unlawful and treated them badly. The social movements have not managed to unite most of the workers and destroying the exploitative and repressive structures completely, and also has not been able to produce an open discourse on the power of the working class and the class perspective beyond capitalism.

However, we see the strengthening of the Chinese working through these struggles and development interests, aspirations and actions based classes. This development has a direction (more struggle, more coordination, and more power), but the future is, of course, remains uncertain. The struggles can be (1) indicates a change in the balance of power that is temporary in the class struggle that will turn around if the crisis and repression occur, and (2) indicates increasing strength of the working class within the capitalist framework that continues to be perpetuated and adaptation reformers against political structure like is happening now, and (3) indicates a possible social revolution is already underway and remove structures structures exploitative capitalist in China (and elsewhere).

The questions cover

Considering the crisis of capitalism and the possibility of social change globally, what impetus will come from China? After a long period of economic growth lush, massive social change, the economic crisis is 'delayed' and the continuation of authoritarian rule of the CCP and the "harmonious society", China may become the core capitalist and the new hegemonic power. The new working class struggle has disrupted the accumulation of capital and make China become the center of global labor unrest, but so far the state capital and successfully manage the pressure and continue the policy of splitting, repression and diversion against the resistance of workers. Economic and political system is still functioning, the ruling power still sitting in their seats.

Capital and the country has managed to isolate and destroy the old working class, and the question now is whether the new class of migrant workers will be able to further expand the struggle and produces not only economic but also political change. Migration and the struggle has led to an increase in wages and improvement of living conditions, but the overall development resulted in the income gap continues to grow, deepening friction villages and towns, the discrimination that continues to happen against migrants, poverty, and the process of commodification (eg education and health), which causes more much suffering and hardship.

Capitalist crisis and workers' struggles as interconnected processes may lead delegitimation crisis-ridden capitalist order and the state, and the instability of the capitalist system today - in China and around the world. The effects of the crisis and the struggle may cause people to question the capitalistic power relations, racism and gender bias and seek other forms of sociality new. Are China and workers' struggles can serve as a laboratory of social change beyond the trap of social partnership depends on (1) in the space of social mobilization that is created when a clash between the state / capital and the working class occurred, (2) the success or failure of political groups left trying to encourage representation and institutionalization of social struggle and (3) on the dynamics of capitalist crisis and social struggles throughout the world.

We need to address weaknesses class organizations who mediated, and their role in stabilizing the capitalist exploitative relationship. Limits of "class struggle without class organization '- namely the social struggles and forms of organization in China today - it was clear, but the absence or dysfunction representatives of institutions' left' in China turned out to be helpful in encouraging more room for efforts to strengthen self workers themselves, who strangled by the mediators left in the same historical context. In other words, consolidation of the power of workers, including the defense and expansion of the field that has been won is only possible through the forms of organizing effective trade. However, to avoid deadlock created larger narrative of the left is referred to in this paper, it opens up more space for other forms of organization that goes beyond the representative idol. []

[1] Of course, all of these countries also have the old working class who do not have secure employment contracts, and also especially includes women and migrants.

[2] According to Alain Bertho in the documentary "Les Raisons de la Colere", Arte, France, 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QpIqcfsDlQ, no more rebellion in 2009 (540) than 1968. During 2010, he counted 1250 uprising: http://www.regards.fr/societe/alain-bertho-les-mobilisations,5008

[3] For a more detailed reference, see: Pun Ngai, Lu Huilin (2010): Unfinished Proletarianization: Self, Anger, and Class Action Among the Second Generation of Peasant-Workers in Present-Day China . Modern China, September 2010, 36: 493-519.

[4] This includes the struggle of the ideological basis of Chinese society, for example Confusian patriarchal regimes.

[5] A recent example in: Au Loongyu / Bai Ruixue (2012): New Signs of Hope. Resistance in China Today . China Labour Net http://worldlabour.org/eng/node/515 See also: Butollo, Florian / Tobias ten Brink (2012): Challenging the Automization of Discontent , Critical Asian Studies, 44: 3, 419-440 http: / /dx.doi.org/10.1080/14672715.2012.711978 and China Labour Bulletin (2012): A Decade of Change. The Workers' Movement in China 2000-2010 http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/110030.

[6] Chan, Chris King-Chi (2010): The Challenge of Labor in China. Strikes and labor regime in the changing global factories . London / New York.

[7] For an event of strikes and riots by workers in different parallel in the history of the capitalist, see Mason, Paul (2007), Live Working or Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global . London. London. For an example of massive riots in 2011 in China, see the description of Guxiang (Chaozhou) and Zengcheng (Guangzhou) in Buttolo / ten Brink (see above).

[8] See Lee, Ching Kwan (2007): Against the Law. Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt . Berkeley.

[9] This element can be, for example, seen in the wave of strikes in the car industry in the summer of 2010 and breaking down various taxi driver since 2008. It describes the trends and do not represent all the struggle in all areas. For a similar assessment, see Friedman, Eli (2012): China in Revolt . Jacobin, Double Issue 7/8, http://jacobinmag.com/2012/08/china-in-revolt, and Buttolo / ten Brink, China Labour Bulletin, and Au / Bai (see above).

[10] See, eg, Wang Kan (2011): Collective Awakening and Action of Chinese Workers: The 2010 Auto Workers' Strike and its Effects . Online Sozial.Geschichte 6, S. 9-27,

[11] See Silver, Beverly (2003): Forces of Labor. Workers' Movements and Globalization since 1870 , Cambridge.

[12] This pattern can often be seen in China, where management is often "ask" the striking workers to elect representatives to the talks - also hoped that the representatives to be bribed, threatened, and dismissed after the conflict is resolved.

[13] One of the leading proponents of the second group is the China Labour Bulletin ( http://www.clb.org.hk/en/ ), besides being a source of information about the conditions and the exploitation of the workers' struggle.

[14] A detailed critique of the larger narrative of the left should include a thorough analysis of the artificial dichotomy used in this ideology - the public / state, the economic struggle / political struggle, union / party - effort this narrative to cure errors and irrationality of capitalist through an economy planned to run the accumulation of capital, and includes a critique of the distorted image of the capitalist class is strong that exploit workers on the one hand and the state / party / union as an institution that is necessary to defend the "rights" of workers on the other side - who reject or ignoring the essence of the working class as part of the capital relationship and the power to destroy this relationship.

[15] See Piven, Cloward F./Richard Francis (1977): Poor People's Movements - Why They Succeed, How They Fail . New York

[16] See Silver (see above). The third form of the proposed Silver strength, market strength (ability to sell themselves in the labor market at a good price), plays a less important role for the development of power as a class. In China, this force increases with the lack of manpower in the industry and offer new job after the relocation of industries to remote locations, but this power is still quite low in disadvantaged areas and for unskilled workers in low-wage industrial consumers. Separation of the labor market through legislation and discriminatory hukou still undermine the market power of many workers.

This article was first published on the website Gongchao . Gongchao (meaning "strike", or "wave resistance" in Mandarin) is a collective that was established in September 2008 as a project to research and document the labor unrest and social movements in China from the perspective of class struggle, migration and gender. The collective's website offers a selection of analytical texts and stories of the workers themselves in several languages.

Translation by Yab Sarpote.

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