Thousands Strike in China in First Month of 2012

The first month of the year in China has seen tens of thousands of people strike and protest against poor working conditions, overdue wages, or insufficient pay levels. By Jan. 22 there had been reports of at least 10 strikes and large-scale protests across China since the beginning of the year—almost one every two days. Many of the incidents involved thousands of people—in one case up to 8,000.

On Jan. 1, a protest was held by thousands of residents in Anyang City of Henan Province. According to Yahoo News, the protest was against the sudden closure of several large Investment & Guarantee Corporations.  The closures caused one in five families in the area to lose their investments, sparking suspicion of collusion between corporations and the authorities.

On Jan. 4, ten thousand workers from the Panzhihua Iron and Steel Group in Chengdu marched to demand a wage increase, according to Apple Daily.  The authorities deployed 1,000 police to suppress the march and dispersed the crowd after a confrontation of several hours. Videos of the altercation were uploaded to the Internet.

On Jan. 7 workers from the Chengde City Qianlong drink industry Co., Ltd. conducted an appeal. According to Oriental Daily, hundreds of workers of the Hebei Province company, which had just been acquired by the Levono Group, carried banners and marched on township authorities to call for better conditions; they claimed that their employer failed to pay overtime or a year-end bonus. Radio Free Asia provided a live video of the incident.

On Jan. 9, over 500 workers from the Qingdao Yellow Sea Rubber Factory went on strike. According to Sound of Hope Radio Network they were protesting delayed payment of social security and housing money.

On Jan. 10, nearly a thousand sanitation workers from Shenzhen Luohu District went on strike.

The next day, on Jan. 11, more than 1,000 workers of a Hong Kong-owned toy factory in Dongguan asked for a wage increase—and demanded to be paid three months in overdue wages. The authorities deployed a large number of police.

Three thousand Muslims in Jinjiang, Fujian Province, protested against land confiscations on Jan. 12, according to Radio Free Asia. They were apparently inspired by the success of villagers in Wukan; Chinese authorities sent more than 1,000 anti-riot police to suppress the crowd. More than a dozen villagers were arrested or injured, according to reports.

Two thousand workers of Changhe Automobile, Chang’an Group went on strike on Jan. 13, according to vidoes uploaded to Youtube. A large number of armed police were sent in, just in case.

On Jan. 14, 4,000 workers from Sanyo in Shenzhen protested against lack of compensation, striking and blocking the road to demonstrate.

Eight thousand workers from the Japanese-owned Fonda in Nanning, Guangxi Province went on strike on Jan. 16. According to Radio Free Asia, a worker said on his Weibo, or microblog, account that the local government sent 1,000 police to maintain order.

A thousand workers from Xuzhou Meritor Axle Co. Ltd. in Jiangsu went on strike on Jan. 17. RFA reported that the workers asked for a rise of the wage, but were refused by their boss.

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