In April 2014, more than 40,000 workers halted production at Yue Yuen Gaobu, a Taiwanese shoemaker in the Pearl River Delta in South China, the so-called workshop of the world. The strike is an important event in a wave of industrial unrest in China. In these strikes, middle-aged and older migrant workers are demanding recognition of their rights to social security and pension insurance and thus are highlighting the limits of hyperflexible low wage-production in China. Drawing on in-depth field research in the Pearl River Delta, we analyse the development of the strike at Yue Yuen. We show that despite structural reasons (growing competitive pressures in the Pearl River Delta and the Chinese Communist Party’s anticorruption campaign) fear of precarity in retirement for middle-aged and older migrant workers is a major reason for the strike. We conclude that conflicts over social security payments will have a lasting effect on Chinese labour relations as social pressure is growing to provide better security for workers in the export industry.
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - 6 Aug 2016|