China's Migrant Workers Ready to Strike, Report Finds

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China's economy has grown over the past decade, but the wealth hasn't been spread very evenly. Many of China's migrant workers still work for low pay and have few rights. But a recent report is showing that a new generation is ready to do something about it. Here's the story.

It's a life not many could imagine -- moving away from home and family to eek out a meager living working factory job after factory job. But for China's 158 million migrant workers, these are the facts of life.

[Wang Long, 24-Year-Old Migrant Worker]:
"I don't have a definite direction. I work in this factory today and the other tomorrow. What could I do if I get old? That's not good, if I cannot have a formal and stable job after my 30s. How will I raise my family in the future?"

But a recent report released by Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin on October 11th, is showing a trend -- a generation of younger migrant workers are willing and able to fight for their rights. Over half of the 158 million were born after 1980 and belong to the so-called "new generation" of migrant workers. They're adept at using the Internet to mobilize and in 2009 staged about 30,000 labor protests, according to the report.

[Geoffrey Crothall, Labour Bulletin Spokesman]:
"They're very good at organizing protests and keeping each other informed of what is going on, what their demands are, what the response of management has been. They are giving each other in real time updates of their protests. And this has allowed workers' rights groups, lawyers interested in workers' rights, to offer advice, help them push their demands. So it has been a very powerful tool."

They want better pay and more rights. And in a country facing massive inflation, the meager pay raises they've been getting aren't cutting it.

Chris Chappell

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