Prof. Andreas Bieler and I have been awarded a grant of £275k by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a project on ‘Globalisation, national transformation and workers’ rights: an analysis of Chinese labour within the global economy’ (RES-062-23-2777; full project proposal). The project starts to run from 1 October 2011. On this blog, I will regularly provide a discussion of empirical findings related to this project.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Pretty Girls, Working on the Shop-Floor

When I received the student’s request to give a talk to female workers at their centre outside a factory in Shenzhen, I was hesitant. I am not an expert in gender studies, and certainly not familiar with women’s position in the power structure in the factory. But the student who was in charge of this event was very tenacious. I couldn’t say no to her in the end, because the student told me how rare it is to have a female scholar visiting their workers’ centre. Therefore I went, with a very humble attitude, to see all the young girls from the factory. I planned my talking points, on being confident at work, or finding channels to relieve pressure from work. However, those girls are much stronger than I expected. They actually told me that when they faced unfairness at work, sometimes it was not because ‘they are not nice enough’, but because they are weaker in power. They also said that that they did not have the choice of what they would like to do in life; they have limited resources and limited opportunities to get on with their lives.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Fighters of Chinese labour law: Li Guan workers—Part One

It was a Sunday afternoon when I went to the Laowei law firm in Shenzhen. I hadn’t expected them to call a meeting on a Sunday afternoon as my British preconception had kicked in, that Sunday should be a day of rest, not a working day. Nevertheless, when I entered the lawyers’ office at two o’clock on that Sunday afternoon, there was already a group of workers from the Japanese-owned Li Guang factory, and lawyer Meng from the Laowei law firm, in the meeting room. The motive for these workers to come to Laowei for a discussion on a Sunday is their grievance about their dismissal from work, a controversial case concerning whether their dismissal is legal or not.