Our Life and Times by Kevin A. Barry
China's labor unrest
Labor unrest has continued to grow in China, especially
in the heavily industrialized Northeast, where the state-capitalist regime has
allowed aging plants to go bankrupt, throwing millions onto the streets. Workers
have marched on government offices and staged sit-ins blocking railroad tracks
or airport runways. Most often, the participants are laid-off workers protesting
the fact that even their small severance payments have been discontinued. The
regime has made small concessions, while also harshly punishing working-class
leaders, but this has not stopped the movement.
In January, 300 workers filled a courtroom in Liaoyang,
with hundreds more waiting outside. They came out to support Yao Fuxin and Xiao
Yunliang, who are facing charges of "subversion" for having helped
organize a March 2002 protest of 30,000 workers, one of the largest since 1989.
Yao and Xiao, two of the "Liaoyang 4," face the possibility of life in
prison, or even the death penalty.
In February, Wang Bingzhang, who has organized support networks for workers from abroad, received a life sentence under new "anti-terrorism" laws. While attending a meeting last summer in Vietnam with labor activists from China, Wang was kidnapped by government agents and brought into China for trial.
Published by News and Letters Committees