This month, instead of doing an analysis, we want to share with you two shifts in the practices in Chinese factories. Each have been seen several times. But we can’t yet call it a trend. We will obviously keep an eye wide open on the evolution.
The first topic is about a mainly positive evolution, although it could lead to some important difficulties on the short term as we have seen in the big strike in shoes factory ( here for example). Chinese workers seem to demand for the payment of the social security. But only few years ago (no more than 2 or 3), payment of social insurances was not considered as an important benefit by the workers. They were indeed often refusing to register to this mandatory program as it is often difficult for them to actually enjoy the social insurances advantages because many workers are migrant workers.. The benefits of the social insurance can be obtain only in the province where it was paid, and not in the province of the migrant worker. Moreover, in China, the confidence of the actual benefit of such system was law. Most people were no trusting the social insurances system to actually pay the retirements. Thus, demand for the payment is an important evolution in the migrant workers requests. It is especially noticeable as there is no change in the law to explain it. It is likely coming from the shift in the expectation of the migrant (from coming in the cities for money only to coming in the cities to settle in). Anyway, this new expectation from workers will have to be confirmed in the coming months.
The second topic is on the opposite clearly negative. We almost never met child labor in China since 3 years. But, since this year Chinese New Year, we found several cases of child of about 15 years old in factories. They are all recently hired, after Chinese New Year. Has the labor shortage increase the pressure on factories? Is the ID checking less systematic than it was before? I take the opportunity to remind the difference between juvenile workers (who are legal and between 16 and 18 years old) and Child labor which is forbidden (workers below 16 years old). Refusing juvenile workers is also a discrimination on the age, as they are legally allowed to work