CLW Labor News Brief for March 2019

Firefighters work on the rubble of a pesticide plant owned by Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical following an explosion in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province. Photo: Reuters 

Death toll from China chemical plant blast rises to 78 LINK

(South China Morning Post, 03/25/2019) An explosion at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical plant on March 21, 2019 killed 78 people with 600 injured. Local officials were blamed for allowing the chemical plant to continue operations despite a number of safety violations. Key executives of the chemical plant have been detained. Around 3,000 residents and factory workers have been evacuated from their homes and workplaces. The explosion marks the most deadliest industrial accident in the country since the Tianjin explosions in 2015.

Chinese Police Hold Maoist Editor on ‘Subversion’ Charges LINK                                                      (Radio Free Asia, 03/25/2019) Chai Xiaoming, an editor of the Maoist website Red Reference, was detained on March 21 on suspicion of “subversion of state power”. A fellow Maoist states that Chai’s detention comes amid a crackdown on individuals that may initiate organized action as China targets grassroots labor movements following the Jasic protests in May last year. Chai is a prominent writer, a Marxist and was a former lecturer on Marxism at Peking University

Foxconn, a tale of slashed salaries, disappearing benefits and mass resignations as iPhone orders dry up LINK                                                                                                                                      (South China Morning Post, 01/03/2019) As demands for iPhones decrease, workers at Zhengzhou Foxconn are earning lower salaries and reduced benefits, leading to a higher turnover rate in the factory. A worker mentioned a cut in his salary from 4,000 RMB in October to 3,000 RMB in November in 2018. Henan’s mobile phone exports fell 23.7% in January compared to a year earlier.

Police detain labour activist Wei Zhili in southern China, wife says LINK                                        (Hong Kong Free Press, 03/21/2019) Wei Zhili, a labor activist, was detained on March 20 in Guangzhou for “disturbing public order” as authorities continue to crackdown on students, workers and activists. Wei was with his parents, when he was detained at 1am. Police had told his parents that their son had been “brainwashed” and would be taken away to be “educated” without specifying where. Wei had been assisting migrant workers diagnosed with pneumoconiosis demand compensation for their work in Shenzhen.

Slave labor for Chinese workers constructing buildings in the U.S. LINK                                        (NPR, 03/30/2019) Dan Zhong, a former Chinese diplomat has been found guilty of using forced labor to construct Chinese government buildings in the U.S. Dan, director of the construction group China Rilin, coerced workers into building state facilities by confiscating their travel documents and forcing them to pay security deposits.

Overseas Chinese workers sue Saipan casino for “forced labour” LINK                                    (Financial Times, 03/15/2019) In early March, several workers sued the main operators behind Grand Marina casino for “forced labor”. In 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation charged China-based MCC International Saipan, one of the contractors building the casino, with hiring Chinese workers without work visas. Chinese construction companies have long been under fire by labor rights groups for their complete disregard for workers’ rights.


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