Workers' struggles in Asia (January 2011)

Cambodian workers protesting
Cambodian workers protesting

Summary and links to news stories of workers' struggles around Asia (focusing on East Asia) during January 2011 and related resources. The most important stories appear on my Twitter feed as soon as I find them:

Submitted by Spartacus on February 1, 2011

While revolutions have been kicking off in North Africa this month, many in China have been following events online despite attempts to block "Egypt" from searches ( , , ,

But China itself has not been quiet. There have been a number of reports of workers protests (a bus strike -; two Taxi driver strikes; redundancy payout protest ; and two protests over back pay , , , and also a number over land seizures (one after a villager's death , ,; over a dam ; an island project; and two in Sichuan ).

Unrest over land seizures and forced demolitions has reached such a point in China that the government has been forced to issue new rules ( although it remains to be seen whether they will be effectively enforced by local authorities. The Epoch Times has also compiled a list of the Top Ten China Mass Protests of 2010 - Workers protests against Chinese bosses have not been limited to China though - the have been a number of protests at Chinese owned companies in Africa, the latest in a Zambian mine ( ,

Finally, as the Chinese Year of the Rabbit approaches, there has been an online viral hit in the form of a cartoon that verges on a call to revolution called “Little Rabbit, Be Good” . That link has a translation of the dialogue, but you can watch the whole thing here.

Neighbouring Vietnam saw a number of wildcat strikes over New Years bonuses at the end of December, but most seemed to end at the start of the month ( - though last week a new one broke out in Da Nang ( Burma is apparently considering allowing some limited degree of worker organisation ( and also saw a successful students’ protest over school bus fares ( Burmese workers in neighbouring Thailand were also involved in a successful strike ( Former Triumph workers there have not been so lucky, as they are being prosecuted for protests in 2009 ( Cambodian workers have also faced repression with hundreds of garment workers sacked for taking part in a massive strike in September last year ( and the unsolved murder of a unionist causing the union leader to threaten massive strike (

Moving further south, the have been a number of clashes over land ownership such as this one, this clash between palm plantation workers and the farmers whose land the trees are grown on ( ) or this one at a university
There was also a protest against police (Google translated reports:,,, ), a strike in Sumatra ( and a teachers' rally over employment status in Jakarta ( A number of unionists have also been persecuted with spurious charges including two workers at the Hyatt Bandung ( and another in Semarang (

Teachers rally over their employment status in Jakarta.

Organisations in Korea have protested in support of the release of Mishu, a militant in Bangladesh (, but there have been a number of disputes there this month too. Temporary workers at a university have been staging a sit-in after they were fired for joining a union ( ,, irregular workers at GM Daewoo have also been protesting including a one union member climbing a crane ( Fired workers at the Cort guitar factory meanwhile have been drumming up international support in the US, including support from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine ( Socialists have also issued an international appeal as the South Korean state persecutes socialist workers (

Clashes between residents of a squatted slum in Manila and demolition crew led to a temporary halt in demolition plans ( , , , ) but in East Timor police managed to evict 1,000 squatters at a former military base ( Those have been the major events in the news this month, but less dramatic developments as well as more details on those stories are covered in the links below - the important ones are in bold.

Analysis, resources and other items of interest

China Study Group has this article on Aufheben on the global crisis & China ( . There have been a couple of comment pieces on the gains from recent worker militancy in China ( , and one on environmental issues there ( which coincides with the release of a documentary called "The Warriors of Qiugang - A New Documentary on the Struggle to Save China's Environment" . Another two documentaries that might be interesting are "Crime and Punishment" and "Petition", reviewed here:

Although they are Trotskyists, the report from the CWI 10th World Congress: Asia ( may be interesting, as their website "China Worker" frequently has decent articles. And lastly, perhaps spurred by recent events in Tunisia, this article on the 1978 self-immolation by a Korean garment worker makes interesting reading (

libcom articles

Only two items added to libcom about Asia to report this month, and the first (Auto industry strikes in China - Lance Carter posted by Steven.) is actually one I missed from December.

The other though has a number of parts: I have begun adding the 1970's Japanese publication Libero International which features articles on libertarian movements and struggles in East Asia, particularly Japan, Korea and China. So far there is the introductory leaflet, issue 1 and issue 2. the remaining four issues I hope to add over the next few weeks.

World Socialist Web Site Asia, Australia and the Pacific Summaries

Workers Struggles: 8th of January
Workers Struggles: 15th of January
Workers Struggles: 22nd of January
Workers Struggles: 29th of January


6: Farmers Protest to Demand Return of Land
12: Students’ protest leads to cut in school bus fare
18: ILO Welcomes Burma's Proposed New Labor Laws
18: Working for change in Burma
19: Trade unions may be allowed back into Burma ,
27: Burma garment workers’ miserable wages


3: Unions petition Labour Ministry
4: Protesters threaten road blockage
6: Chinese lakeside link confirmed
7: Land clearance by Korean firm blocked
10: State keeps unions waiting
11: Garment Workers Sacked for Striking
11: Unions urge Govt to reinstate suspended workers ,
12: Workers fear factory closure
13: Freedom Plummets in Cambodia
17: Critics take aim at union law
17: Union leader’s detention criticised
19: March target for union law
21: City restricts union march
23: Union leader threatens massive strike
23: Chinese embassy weighs in on lake
30: Unionists balk at no-strike clause


1: Top Ten China Mass Protests of 2010
1: Eyewitness: Chinese police, protesters clash after villager's death , ,
1: Despite Anti-corruption Drive, Scandals Plague Communist Leaders in China
2: Szeto Wah, Hong Kong Democracy Activist, Dies ,
2: Beijing’s Bomb Shelter Hoteliers Protest Against Closure
3: Seeds of Change?
4: Human rights lawyers threatened and jailed
4: Unions push for collective wage move
4: Latest Directives From the Ministry of Truth, December 15, 2010-January 4, 2011
5: Mother killed in China land protest
5: Death Probe Sparks Doubt
5: Cyber-Dissident Dies on Parole
6: Hong Kong passes city's first minimum wage
6: Worker militancy yields new labor rights ,
6: Warning to China's Media
6: New Controls on Text Messages
7: Police laughed while woman was crushed
7: Human Rights in China Mourns the Passing of Dissident-Writer Li Hong
7: The Zhouqu Mudslide: “The National Ecological Disaster in Microcosm.”
7: Second Industrial Poisoning in Anhui
7: Beijing to Push Ideology Online
9: Hu Jintao’s Visit to ‘77 Yuan’ Apartment a Farce, Netizens Say
10: Angry tour guides see more work, less pay
10: Labor lawyer imprisoned in Xi’an for organizing against corrupt privatization of state enterprises
10: Cathay pay row fails to dent job hopes
10: Beijing's 'mice' seek shelter from high costs
10: Big 2010 stories hushed, but not forgotten
10: Dissident's Plight Clouds Hu visit
11: Tour guides urged to take long-term view on rules
11: Cathay fails to reach pay deal with cabin crew
11: The Warriors of Qiugang - A New Documentary on the Struggle to Save China's Environment
11: Graft-Busting Site Blocked
11: Leftist who stood up to China
12: Cathay rules out further pay talks ,
12: In Crime and Punishment and Petition, the Real People's Republic of China
12: Site Denies Overseas Access
12: Death in China: Crushing Dissent or Tragic Accident?
13: Shenzhen bus strike erupts into violence
13: Taxi drivers and officials at stalemate over new work rule
13: New Round of Forced Evictions
13: A General Notice from the Central Propaganda Bureau Regarding News and Propaganda in 2011
13: Time for China to criminalize the willful non-payment of wages
13: The warriors of Qiugang: bittersweet triumph in eastern China
13: In accounts of activist's death, villagers and Chinese government differ
14: Taxi drivers on strike in two Chinese cities
14: Protest at airport to support FAs union
14: Speaking from My Heart: A New Article by Gao Zhisheng
14: Police Chief Dies in Custody; Wife Alleges Torture
14: Officials Withhold Land Compensation
14: China Moves to End ‘Modern Slavery’
14: Chinese tainted milk activist reportedly leaves hospital, returns home
16: New witness accounts renew suspicions over Chinese village leader's gruesome death
16: Court Officials Probed for Toll Evading Case
17: Redundant employees protest over payout
17: Villagers held after dam protest ends in violence
17: Young lives ruined by the refusal of the boss to pay wage arrears
17: Jailed Activist's Health Failing
18: Angry villagers halt island project
18: Rights-conscious Chinese pose new labor challenge
18: Housing Demolition in 2010: A Report (Part 1 | Part 2
19: Police in China shoot workers protesting over back pay: reports , ,
19: Zambian Miners Riot Over Labor Dispute ,
19:Zhejiang Police’s Internal Document: Controlling the Movements of Critical Persons
19: Chinese man takes forced eviction case to President Hu
19: China moves to tighten land seizure rules after suicides, unrest over development
20: Another suicide at Foxconn
20: Hit Chinese film a sharp-edged satire
20: Macau Workers’ Union calls for specific law on illegal work
20: Tunisia's Uprising an Inspiration for Chinese
20: Nine dead in explosion at firecracker factory ,
20: Fears grow that China is overheating
21: Peasants Kneel for Overdue Salary
21: No pay raise for Carrefour Shanghai workers
21: Sparks from Chinese Media Extinguished, Remain as Embers
21: Labor Camp Blogger Speaks Out
21: Amid outcry, Apple says it monitors work conditions in China
22: China issues new rules to ease tensions over forced demolition
22: Abuse of Power is the Biggest Problem
23: Nicholas Kristof: Banned in Beijing!
23: No Cathay work-to-rule over New Year
23: Migrant workers should enjoy paid leave
23: Zambia - Chambishi mine asked to resume work immediately
24: Clashes in Quake Region
24: “Little Rabbit, Be Good” A Subversive New Years’ Video Card , ,
24: Cathay protest called off
24: China's online crusaders gain ground
24: Show respect, rail line protesters urged
24: Activist Beaten on Release
24: CIA Views China’s “Student Informant System”
25: China’s National Image Campaign, Folk Version
25: China’s work-related injury rehabilitation centres lie empty
26: China’s Economy Bolstered by the Sale of Bloodstained Land , ,
26: China hit-and-run suspect on trial after web outrage ,
26: Hong Kong Bars Dissidents , ,
26: China Leader Encourages Criticism of Government , ,
27: Family threatens suicide in Beijing property row
27: Carrefour China stores busted for overcharging, refusing to hike wages
28: Harassment of the Dagongzhe Centre Continues
28: Lunar New Year highlights China labour issues
29: China Policeman’s Son Gets 6 Years for Deadly Hit-and-Run Case ,
29: Chinese Regime Blocks ‘Egypt’ Internet Search , , ,
30: New IFJ Report Outlines Restrictions on Journalists in China
31:Hong Kong staff `exploited' by pay cuts despite recovery
31: Eight-Year-Old Holds Press Conference to Publicize Family's Ordeal in China

East Timor

20: Protests as E. Timor police evict 1,000 squatters


10: 250 Employees Call for Redemption of Social Security
11: New Year, Old Trick: Stop the Criminalisation of Trade Unionist! ,
12: Workers protest repossession of industrial zone
13: Police shoot students in Unasman campus clash
14: Protest against police (Google translated reports:,,, )
15: Gunshot victim faces permanent paralyses
15: Farmers shot for harvesting on a palm plantation (Google translated reports:, )
17: Take Up Protest for Woman Trade Unionist Jailed in Indonesia
21: AJI calls for decent salaries for Yogyakarta journalists
23: Journalists Not Paid Enough to Maintain Integrity
24: Free Yudha and Early! Hyatt Bandung disguises outsourcing agenda with criminal charges against union members over $15
24: Villagers Riot Over Land Deal Trickery
24: FSPM to confront difficult environment with new organizing strategy
26: Strike in Sumatra
26: Villager’s Tale of  Squalor Under Jeddah’s Bridge of  Despair
29: Employees of PTPN II and Residents Clash (Google translation )
29: Thousands of Farmers March
31: Thousands of teachers rally over employment status
31: Arrest in Latest Case of Migrant Abuse in Arabia


8: Keidanren OKs regular wage hikes in 'shunto' talks
10: Civil servants won't receive right to strike
10: Gov't not to grant its workers right to strike
14: 2011 Spring Struggle begins
17: Toyota union plans to forgo wage hike demand
19: Keidanren, Rengo Kick Off Spring Wage Talks , , ,
20: Axed pilots, cabin crews sue JAL


10: Blue Elephants - documentary about migrant workers in Malaysian electronics industry
11: Policy chaos over migrant workers in Malaysia
18: IFJ Condemns Victimisation of Journalist Union Leader in Malaysia
19: Plantation worker is demanding to know what has happened to union's investments
19: Minimum wage at RM700 is too low
25: Malaysia's maid crunch hits households
26: Poor NUPW workers, ‘rich’ union sec-gen
26: Industrial Court endorses colonial wage structure
27: Malaysian electronics workers secure union rights
27: Union wants regional allowance reviewed
28: Regulate recruiters and labour out-sourcers
30: Review decision to register Maybank in house union says NUBE


4: Mongolian trilateral agreement aimed at easing mining-stakeholder conflicts


1: Manila to push for overseas workers' insurance scheme
10: PAL labors over DOLE ruling favoring FASAP, seeks reversal ,
11: Philippines: Government workers' group seeks P6,000 pay hike
11: PAL union members protest congressman’s alleged boorishness
13: ‘Kuliglig’ drivers to meet with CHR, Manila officials
16: The Slaves of Madagascar: Abused OFWs Repatriated for Fighting for Their Rights
18: Retirement of 8 PAL flight pursers to worsen labor row
20: Labor dep’t settles disputes at Philbless, Keihin
22: Filipino farmers, students hold protests in Davao City
22: DoLE to decide on PAL's reversal motion
23: Stranded Filipino workers stage protest in Riyadh
24: Outspoken journalist murdered in Philippines ,
25: Clashes between residents and demolition crew in the Philippines turn violent , , ,
25: Angara Ecozone Project a Massive Case of Landgrabbing, Say Aurora Folk
26: P125 wage hike pushed
27: Union delegation backs Philippine aviation workers
27: Work Safety Group Urges Probe of Lucio Tan Firm for Death of 10 Workers , ,


11: No to lowering minimum age requirement for maids
13: Minimum wage debate , , , ,
21: Workplace deaths at all-time low
21: What’s being done for workers at the bottom
25: Nathan recalls fight for workers' rights ,
31: Linde Industrial Gas Workers’ Network Created in Asia-Pacific

South Korea

3: Harsh retribution
5: Seoul education office to add course on labor rights at vocational schools
6: Temporary workers struggle to regain jobs
7: Lofty protest
7: KTU chief has concerns on corporal punishment ban
10: South Korean state persecutes socialist workers
11: Hongik University workers' sit-in continues
12: Campaign against mass firing of workers at Cort guitar factory
12: Rage Against The Machine Support Guitar Strike
12: Hyundai Oilbank union renounces strikes ,
14: South Korea: Struggles by 'irregular' workers multiply, solidarity needed
14: Korean Guitar Workers Return to NAMM Show To Demand Rights
14: Cleaning workers report benefits from unionizing as standoff continues at Hongik
14: GM Daewoo Irregular Workers Protest in South Korea
17: A management threat to labor unions
20: The S. Korean ruling class tears aside the veil of its “democracy”
21: With 400 jobs on the line, labor activist continues 15-day subzero sit-in
21: Solidarity concert @ NAMM Saturday, and a chance encounter with Cort’s CEO
22: Anachronistic interference in the labor sector
23: Labor activist Chon Tae-il's death: a wake-up call
24: North Korea: Public Executions over Leaflets
26: Thirty Korean Rights Organizations Demand Immediate Release Of Mishu
26: New union leader hints breakup with GNP
27: Political witch-hunting against unionized teachers
28: Riot police squad disbanded for abuse ,


1: New labor rights measures to be introduced in 2011
2: Aborigines protest ROC repression
6: Farmers protest industrial park
6: AIG's Taiwan unit fined for punishing union member
26: Taiwan aborigines want to reclaim land in government hands
28: Amis clash with police at land protest ,


3: Burmese migrant workers stage labour rights protest. | |
13: Assembly of Poor rallies at Ubon city hall
18: Laid-off factory workers of Triumph International Thailand fight for a better life
26: Striking Burmese workers win demands ,
28: Former Triumph workers prosecuted for protests in 2009


1: Thousands join wildcat strikes in Dong Nai
1: Low cost labor could exact a high price
1: 23 years working as state employee, earning $100/month
5: Staff at Vietnam electronics company end strike over pay, holidays
6: Unionists should better protect workers’ rights
10: Vietnam cracks down on online critics ahead of Communist congress
21: Reporter Severely Burned
22: Firms evading employee social insurance payments face court
25: Intensifying Repression of Human Rights
26: Da Nang workers go on strike for end-of-year payment, bonus
29: Migrant workers keep up a sweat for Tet
29: To buy a house, state employees have to fast for 24 years