Career Calling

July 7, 2013

Workers in China Get Extreme

It’s not unusual to hear stories about worker exploitation in China.  More and more, it’s also not unusual for Chinese workers to resist.  Recently, workers in a plant outside of Beijing held an American plant owner hostage for 6 days to protest low wages and layoffs.  The dispute ended when the plant owner agreed to the workers terms, which he is now claiming to be the result of an act of coercion.

There are two reasons being given for this situation.  Employees say they were owed wages.  Local news claims that the owner was trying to outsource jobs to India.  Both explanations show what hardships Chinese workers face.  China’s own population means that it will almost always have a surplus population for employers to exploit.  Add India’s billion plus to China’s billion plus, and we have an ugly situation for some of the world’s poorest working people.

What will they do?  Will kidnappings of bosses increase, or will actions grow even more radical?  The great American poet Langston Hughes captured this situation and mood in his description of a “Dream Deferred”:  “Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun. . . . Or does it explode?

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