All Rhetoric, No Practice
Obama to Chinese Workers: Don't Make Waves
By DAVID MACARAY
It has to be discouraging to international workers when the Obama administration’s official response to labor unrest in China is indistinguishable from that of the George W. Bush administration….which was indistinguishable from that of the Reagan administration. But the message from the Obama White House to China’s workers is clear: Don’t make waves.
On May 17, nearly 2,000 workers walked off their jobs at Honda Automotive Components Manufacturing (a transmission plant) at Foshan, a city in the southern province of Guangdong, the automotive hub of the country. The issue that precipitated the walkout was as old and venerated as the boss-worker relationship itself: better wages.
With the minimum wage in Guangdong province set at 920 yuan a month, workers in the ultra-modern, highly automated Foshan plant were averaging approximately 1200 yuan per month ($175). While it was more than the minimum, given their skilled positions, the rigor and demands of the job—not to mention the profitability of the company—the workers felt they deserved more. more