21 September 2004

AFL-CIO's petition for Chinese worker's rights

The Summer 2004 issue of Dissent has an interesting article on the AFL-CIO's petition submitted to the U.S. government asking the U.S. trade representative to take action to promote the human rights of China's factory workers. The petition cites section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974--the first time this section has been invoked in reference to worker's rights. The petition thoroughly documents China's systematic exploitation of workers and demonstrates how this abuse has placed downward pressures on wages across the globe. The petition was rejected by the Bush administration as an example of "isolationism." I find the petition quite remarkable for its application of the law (in favor of workers instead of corporations). It is also an irony that China, which is nominally "socialist" (emphasis on the "nominally"), no longer trusts its own workers to organize for their own benefit. The section of the AFL-CIO report in Dissent discusses ways in which the permit system (allowing workers to live and work in urban areas) is used to exploit rural workers who come to the city for jobs.

No comments: