It’s strike season in China, and this year it could be a doozy
In Zhengzhou on Jan. 2, hundreds of migrant workers knelt for hours at the construction site to beg their boss to pay them months or even years of back wages. In Wenzhou on Dec. 23, a large crowd of workers from a bankrupt shoe factory swarmed the city, asking the local government to help them get unpaid salaries. In Lanzhou on Jan. 3, six workers climbed to the roof of a nine story building and threatened to jump unless they got 240,000 yuan (about $40,000) owed to them.
It’s the season of labor unrest in China, when some of the country’s nearly 300 million migrant workers go to extreme measures to force their employers to pay them before they head home to see their families for Chinese New Year, which falls this year on Jan. 31. Many of these workers have not been paid for months, and they desperately need to bring home cash for what is often their only visit of the year. There have already been 72 strikes in China between Dec. 1, 2013 and Jan. 7, according to the non-profit research group China Labour Bulletin, which promotes workers’ rights. The strikes, mostly over unpaid wages, are concentrated in China’s industrial southeast, the group’s interactive map shows: So far, that’s about even with last year—China Labour Bulletin recorded 117 workers’ strikes for all of December 2012 and January 2013. But a combination of rising wages, falling profits and debt-laden companies may make this strike season particularly eventful.
China to place armed police under control of military
The Chinese government is considering reorganizing the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force (PAP) and placing it under the direct control of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party as part of the country’s military realignment plan, according to senior Chinese military officials. At present, the PAP is commanded by both the commission, which controls the military, and the Public Security Ministry, which is in charge of police affairs.
Because the PAP is under dual control, there has been a number of instances when the PAP received conflicting instructions from the military and local public security authorities after being ordered to suppress riots or undertake other missions. As a result, decisions to deploy the PAP were delayed in some cases. Some government officials have complained that the PAP’s actions are inefficient. By placing public security units under a single command, the Chinese government hopes to respond to large-scale riots and other incidents more rapidly.
The reorganization is aimed at dealing with incidents including the frequent clashes between public security authorities and armed groups in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and large-scale riots elsewhere. According to the military officers, PAP units will be in charge of maintaining public security and guard VIPs under the military commission’s direct control. PAP units in charge of border patrol and firefighting will gradually be transferred to the Public Security Ministry’s local organizations and other authorities.
In 2013, a series of incidents were regarded as challenges to the Chinese administration. They included a car that exploded into a ball of fire in Tiananmen Square in late October, and a series of explosions that occurred near the Chinese Communist Party offices in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. As public discontent in China has been increasing, partly because of the widening gap between rich and poor, the number of riots and protests has exceeded 180,000 annually in recent years. To maintain stability, public security units must be operated much more efficiently. The name of the reorganized units translates as “armed guard force” or “military public security force.”
Inmates hold ‘peaceful’ protests at three Alabama prisons
ST. CLAIR COUNTY, AL (WBRC) – As of Monday, three different state prisons are dealing with an inmate strike. The protest started last Wednesday at the Holman Correctional Facility, then spread to the St. Clair Correctional Facility over the weekend, and Elmore Correction Facility on Monday morning. FOX6 News learned about the strike when viewers contacted the station after visitation at the St. Clair Facility was canceled Saturday. One woman, who did not wish to be identified, tells FOX6 News she was getting ready to visit her fiancé, an inmate at St. Clair, Saturday morning when she got the call.
“My fiancé called me and told me not to come because they were protesting,” she explained. According to the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), a group of inmates went on strike and sparked the cancellation. “They have refused to work,” explained Brian Corbett, the Public Information Manager for ADOC. He says some inmates who work within the prison without pay are protesting for compensation and over living conditions.
Rights Groups Demand Information on Detained Cambodian Strikers
Cambodian rights groups on Monday demanded the authorities make public the whereabouts of nearly two dozen people arrested during recent police crackdowns on striking factory workers, saying that they should be granted immediate access. Family members, lawyers, and physicians have been denied information about the location of 23 people held during clashes last week in the capital Phnom Penh between police and workers demanding higher salaries, according to the rights groups Licadho and the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC). “We are extremely concerned for the health and personal safety of all those held,” Licadho director Naly Pilorge said of the detained garment and footwear workers.
Nigeria: Half Nude Women Protest Over Shell Pact
Yenagoa — Women of Peremabiri community in Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State yesterday came out half naked and crippled activities of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in the area over alleged non-implementation of the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) entered into with the community. The over 100 protesting women tied red cloth as a traditional barricade to block the entrance to the SPDC oil platform, and claimed that the company had failed to deliver on a two year old promise to replace a faulty electricity generator, renovate existing schools and provide potable water.
Convicted Greek militant on loose after breaking parole
(Reuters) – Greek police are searching for a convicted member of dismantled extremist group November 17 who failed to report to the authorities during prison leave over New Year, police officials said on Tuesday. Christodoulos Xiros, 56, was serving multiple life terms in Athens for participating in a series of deadly attacks carried out by his Marxist group against Greek, U.S. and British businessmen and diplomats. His lawyer Frangiskos Ragousis said he believed his client has escaped. “It is a political decision in line with his revolutionary activity,” Ragousis told television station Skai.