Chinese feel pressure to work longer hours
Ineffectual unions may mean Foxconn is the norm
The average Chinese worker spends eight hours and forty minutes a day exchanging their labour for currency, and 30% work for at least ten hours, according to a new study by the nation's Institute of Social Science, together with Peking University and recruitment agency Zhaopin.com.
One reason for the long hours, according to the People's Daily, is weak trade unions who can't get a better deal for workers. Feng Tongqing, a labor professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations, gave the Daily that line and also believes that competition for the domestic market means Chinese entrepreneurs are pushing their staff to work more.
The party organ also reports that some familiar-seeming cultural pressures are behind some of China's work habits, quoting a PR operative named Feng Nan as saying "Our supervisor admires the busy bees and is one himself, so how can I leave the office and go home if my supervisor is still at his desk?" ®
Re: Unions, eh?
Gosh, I hope you don't take any statutory sick pay when you keel over sick, or statutory holiday or enjoy employment rights of any kind. If you do, then you have unions to thank.
Is your 6 year-old not apprenticed to the local mill? If not, then you have unions to thank.
Even if you are freelance, you benefit from all that because you can and do price in the risk of not having those, secure in the knowledge that the employer has to pay for that for a permie.
Higher productivity through capital accumulation can be a good thing, but there need to be checks and balances to ensure that those accumulating the capital don't just exploit people like slaves.
Even a cursory reading of history will show you that those at the top of the heap aren't generally very good at sharing with those at the bottom of the heap. Unions help redress that problem. You may not like them, but boy are they necessary.
I'm still watching.
Re: Ineffectual unions some other time
The situation is not exactly as simple as what it was in good old polarized times of the Cold War.
First, take note that it is the People's Daily that says the union are too weak. They are the official tabloid of the Party, not independent press.
From my experience, the unions in China do help improve things somewhat, by at least reporting problems to Party, which then sometimes tries to fix them. The goal of the Party is to stay in power. Party members, if anything, are smart enough to realize that crushing the People's hopes and life is not a way to attain that goal. So they do really make efforts to improve people's lives. From my European view point, the Party is much more listening to the needs of the People than Usanians corporations (which are currently striving to get even more political power). Mostly, I think, because the Party's goal is actually building and keeping a nation, and not solely executives' bonuses, which can flow from one tax heaven to another easily.
And yes, there is the West. A few years back, there was Chinese legislation to be enacted that would improve workers' conditions. It was *Western* companies that lobbied the Chinese government to stop that, because it would reduce their margin and increase the prices for their Westerns consumers.
So this is not Lech Walesa's Poland. It's today's China, which has no precedent in history for its development.