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About a week or so ago I posted a link to the State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011: China.” I was reading through the report and a couple of passages stood out. These were taken from the section on workers’ rights:
"The law does not provide for freedom of association, as workers are not free to organize or join unions of their own choosing. Independent unions are illegal, and the right to strike is not protected in law." (Pg. 66)
"There is no legal obligation for employers to negotiate, and some employers refused to do so." (Pg. 66)
"Government officials took a more prominent role in resolving some labor disputes, although not necessarily in the favor of striking workers. For example, a four-day strike by 4,000 workers at a South Korean-owned handbag factory in Guangzhou’s Panyu District ended on June 23, when police arrested at least six workers, according to foreign press reports. The strike ended without workers winning any concessions on wages and conditions on which the walk-out was based." (Pg. 69)
I find this more than a little ironic that the US would include a lack of union rights in a report detailing China’s human rights abuses.
OK, so the US may not be as bad as China on this, but after recent events (Wisconsin) it seems that we may be moving in their direction. Over the last thirty years the power of unions has been systematically reduced, and now there are people on the right (Mitch Daniels) saying that public sector unions should go all together.
In an interesting bit of geo-political ‘I know you are but what am I?’ the US released a report surveying human rights by country. Needless to say the report was critical of China. So in turn, China released their own report about the US.
Here are links to each:
USA’s report: “2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China”
China’s report: “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011”
I haven’t completely read through them both yet, but I’ll post more when I do. This should be interesting.