Authorities impose tight controls on Guangzhou strike

A four day strike at a Korean-owned handbag factory in Guangzhou has gone completely unreported in the official Chinese media this week as authorities attempt to prevent a repeat of last summer’s wave of strikes in factories in Guangdong and across China.

Widespread coverage in the Chinese media of last year’s strike at the Nanhai Honda automotive parts factory in Foshan led to a series of strikes sweeping the province’s automotive factories. It seems clear that the authorities do not want to make the same mistake again, especially in the wake two separate riots involving migrant workers in the province during the last few weeks.

So far the only news reporting on the Panyu strike has come from Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, which described how the more than 4,000-strong workforce at the Simone factory in Panyu had gone out on strike on 20 June demanding higher pay and more humane treatment from the company’s disciplinarian managers.

A heavy security presence was quickly established around the factory to prevent access, and several workers complained that they had been intimidated and beaten by security officers. On 23 June, management threatened to sack any workers who did not go back to work.

The previous day, Zhang Guangning, the Party boss of Guangzhou, called on the local authorities to improve the “social management” and provide a better service to migrant workers after three days of riots in neighbouring Zengcheng earlier this month. Zhang also threatened to punish severely those found guilty of criminal activities during the riots.
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