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A Solidar Switzerland project aimed at improving working conditions has been running in southern China's Guangdong province since September 2010.

China is the world's biggest economy in terms of growth. However, it is also the country with the world's biggest number of people living in poverty. 150 million Chinese – 12% of the country's population – subsist on less than one dollar a day. Rural areas are most severely affected by poverty, which is why thousands migrate to its booming cities – only to find terrible working conditions.
Terrible working conditions

  • China has not ratified four of the ILO's eight "fundamental principles and rights at work", i.e. the conventions on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise; the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining; the Forced Labour, and the Abolition of Forced Labour.
  • Also, while the remaining four ILO conventions on Minimum Age; Worst Forms of Child Labour; Equal Remuneration and Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) have been ratified, China has been slow in implementing the relevant legislation.
  • China has just one official "labour union", the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). China's workers do not have the right to set up or join labour unions of their own choosing. The ACFTU has traditionally been an adjunct of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government, whose interests it has primarily defended, attracting severe criticism from many of China's workers.
  • In 1982 the right to strike was dropped from the Chinese constitution. Any protests and demonstrations are punished most severely.
  • Although Chinese legislation stipulates equal pay for equal work, the law is rarely enforced: while urban women workers earn 67% (two thirds) of salaries paid to men, in rural areas, they receive just half a male wage. According to the "hukou" or "huji" system anyone living in a city is required to register. However, rural migrant workers seeking employment in cities are prevented from doing so and forcing them to accept unregulated work without health insurance and at low wages, which are frequently withheld. Moreover, the children of these workers do not have access to free schools and universities. It is a discriminatory system that deprives over one hundred million Chinese citizens of their constitutional rights.
  • China has seen an exponential increase in industrial diseases: in 2010 a new diagnosis was made every ten minutes, 90% of which were of pneumoconiosis caused by dust inhalation.
  • According to Chinese labour legislation, a working day lasts eight hours. However, working days of between 12 and 15 hours are actually the norm, often without any overtime pay.

Our China programme
Solidar co-operates with Labour Action China (LAC), which organises workers, supporting them in lawsuits against employers, for example, or in their struggle to enforce decent working conditions or compensation for work-related ill health.