Tag Archives: migrant workers

Chinese Government Fears Impact Of Economic Issues

Thousands of people in Russia have suddenly become frightened as the economic crisis ripples through their society and a similar feeling is growing in China. Thousands of migrants are being compelled to return to their native areas as jobs dry up due to economic downturns. The Chinese government is facing economic dislocation together with the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama fleeing Tibet and the 20th anniversary of the infamous Tiananmen massacre. Chinese President Hu Jintao and his top generals have publicly warned the armed forces they must obey the Communist Party without question. The Central Military Commission issued a statement that “we must make sure the army will follow the instruction of the (Central Military Commission) and the Communist Party at any time, under any circumstances.”

Chinese leaders are most probably exaggerating threats to their power, but such is the impact of a world-wide economic disaster that governments suddenly are worried about violence and disorder. There will be public protests as people lose their jobs or are forced by economic considerations to leave life in the city for the boredom of a rural existence. The real question the Chinese government should be focusing on is what do migrant workers do if compelled to return to villages and farms after years of making good money working in factories?

China Faces Employment Crisis

The economic crisis continues to spread throughout the world with nations encountering serious issues of being able to offer work to its workers and students. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, promised the government would do something to assist college graduates who face a terrible job situation that most probably will get worse before it gets better. “your difficulties are my difficulties,” he told students at Beijing University. He admitted the nation faced severe economic issues, but a priority was developing programs that would meet student needs. However, he also noted there were other issues to be resolved. “But, currently we are most concerned about two issues, migrant workers returning home and employment for graduates.”

Most probably, the issue of migrant workers may be the returning to farms and villages. This group could become a force that would threaten established law and order since they have lived the good life of being in a city and now must return to the misery of rural life in China.

Russian Skinheads Finally Jailed

During the existence of the Soviet Union, thousands of black skinned students were brought to Russia in an attempt to prove communism did not harbor hatred toward those with black skin as was the case in America. Unfortunately, those students encountered hate from ordinary Russians who simply did not treat those with dark skins as equal to them. The hate of Russians toward darker skinned immigrants has been highlighted by the trial of a gang of skinhead teenagers who killed 20 migrant workers and attempted to kill twelve others. The police did not catch up to the gang until they captured two who boasted of their killing spree toward Tajik workers and Chinese migrants and others who only crime was having a dark skin.

There is no doubt racist violence is on the rise in Russia and it is hardly one of the more important concerns of Vladmir Putin. Human right groups believe the police are not that interested in crimes against poor migrants. The skinheads adhere to Nazi ideas even though Nazism was responsible for the deaths of over 30 million Russians. One can only wonder if
Russian schools teach about the past and about the need to respect those who might differ in skin color or views.

Indonesia Migrants Add To Divorce Rate

Indonesian officials in central Java are coming across evidence of a correlation between migrant workers and the divorce rate. The divorce rate in Banyumas regency appears to be directly proportional to the number of migrant workers in the region. Joso Isnuoso notes “Divorces are growing by the month, especially when wives return home from working overseas.” He noted it is not unusual for a wive to return home after working for several months thousands of miles away from home and family in a state of pregnancy.In one village here have been over 150 divorce cases since 2000.

A major factor in creating family tensions arises from pay checks. If the wive is away, the husband expects her to regularly send checks and vice versa for a wife. The lure of money is powerful in rural areas of Indonesia where most people live in poverty. But, the price of family disruption is probably one many will risk because the rewards far out shine the consequences.

China Begins Addressing Needs Of Migrant Workers

The plight of migrant workers in China has been a major concern for years as their movement into urban areas has opened the doors to abuse and exploitation of the rural wanderers. The Chinese government has finally established a special department whose task is safeguarding the rights of migrant workers, help them secure training, and ensure safe working conditions. It will ensure migrant workers get their wages on time, sign labor contracts that are enforced, obtain job training, and be able to participate in social security programs.

A major issue facing China is transforming an army of migrants who lack education into the world of the 21st century which necessitates high levels of skills. Since the 1990s, millions of farmers have migrated from their homes to work in factories, mines and in construction. Their treatment at the hands of unscrupulous businessmen and foremen has long been a national scandal.

The Chinese government is also placing three migrant workers into the country’s parliament so they can express concerns of their fellow migrants at the highest level of government.

Olympics Built On Backs Of Ripped Off Workers

A Human Rights Watch report indicates the army of migrant workers who are toiling in Chna to build Beijing’s skyscrapers and Olympic facilities are under-paid, not paid, and work in unsafe and difficult conditions. the report cataloged a variety of deprivations suffred by the estimated one to two milliiion migrant workers who are constructing Olympic facilities. They lack safe equipment, live in crowded and unhygienic dormitories, lack access to medical care and are subject to arbitrary fines by bosses or have delays in receiving wages, provided they even get them. Human Rights Watch interviewed dozens of workers who reported many employers refuse to pay wages each month as required by Chinese law and they may even have to wait until the end of the year for what they are owed– provided they even receive the amount due.

Naturally, China’s Foreign Ministry questioned the reliability of the report. Its spokesperson, Qin Chang, claimed Human Rights Watch is “biased. It has some problems with its eyes. It has weaknesses in seeing things properly.” The Chinese communist government arose to defend the interests of the working class, but in these days, the only class being protected is the exploiting one. One can only wonder what Mao tse-tung thinks about a Communist China in which the workers are exploited by the government.

Immigration Issue A Problem-In Malaysia,That Is!

There are an estimated 200 million people in the world today who fit the definition of being an “immigrant.” President Susilo Barnbang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badwai of Malaysis are trying to resolve problems arising from the influx into Malaysia of large numbers of Indonesian migrant workers. They are drawn by the attraction of better paying jobs than what they can find in their own country. A major issue is the lack of protection afforded Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia. Indonesia’s foreign minister urged the Malaysian government to “speed up the process oto grant migrant wrkers identification cards” that could serve as a substitute for passports. Indonesian officials are upset that in many cases employers seize passports which allows them to maintain strict control of the migrant workers.

It is estimated last year about 48 Indonesian migrant workers died under mysterious circumstances. It is also believed about 1,500 Indonesian maids flee from employers each monthdue to abuse, long working hours or low pay. There is little question Indonesian migrant complaints get short shrift in Malaysian courts. Perhaps, at some point, there is need for some global approach to the global issue of migration.

Slave Labor Shames America-Read About It In England!

Shortly after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency, author Michael Harrington wrote a powerful book depicting the plight of migrant workers in America and Edward R. Murrow filmed the famous “harvest of Shame” episode on TV. It inspired the Kennedy administration to take action. Fast forward forty five years and an English newspaper is printing stories on its front page about the plight of America’s migrant workers, Leonard Dolye, reporting from Florida, describes fruit pickers held captive and subjected to brutal work conditions. three of them recently broke free after a year of being terrorized by their employer and reported to police conditions on the fruit plantation. The workers were locked up at night and if they took a shower using a hose, $5 was deducted from their wages. “The story of slavery and abuse in the fruit fields of sub-tropical Florida threatens to lift the lid on some appalling human rights abuses in America today.”

In words that could have been written by Michael Harrington years ago, Doyle points out the mainly Hispanic work force gets paid 45 cents for every 32 pound bucket of tomatoes collected. A worker has to pick nearly two-and-a-half tons of tomatoes to even earn the minimum wage. The police investigation reveals workers are forced into debt and don’t even get the luxury of making money to send home. Detectives found 11 men held captive in a bungalow. The entire operation was run by a family named, Navarette. Despite the hard work of the men they were deeply in debt due to punitive charges imposed by the employer who lived in abandoned vans which also were the only place for toilet activities. The men were forced to pay rent of $20 a week to live in a locked furniture van and to urinate and defecate in a corner. They paid $50 a week for meals which usually consisted of rice with a few bits of meat thrown in.

Florida migrant workers have no protection under the law to unionize. The Bush/Cheney administration is hostile to any union activities and has stacked the National Labor Relations Commission with pro-employer appointees who make difficult any attempt at forming a union to protect the rights of workers. Several large franchises such as Burger King and McDonalds have been urged to insist on better pay for farm workers. McDonalds recently signed an agreement whereby farm workers would get an extra penny a pound for picking tomatoes.

The so-called liberals running for the Democratic Party nomination for president are too busy worrying about early childhood writings of their opponents to take a stand for migrant workers– after all, they don’t vote in the primaries. Not a single one has yet gone to Florida to stand behind these workers or to make a statement in support of the poor people of this nation. John Edwards is the only candidate who even hints there are two Americas, one of the affluent and one of the poor. The shame of America is that such stories appear on the front page of an important English newspaper– will they ever appear on the front pages of American newspapers?

Oh, don’t expect the Navarette family to be punished other than paying a few dollars in fines. Now, if they stole fruit from a store, it would be jail time.

Migrant Workers Abused In Middle East Claims Report

The Middle East is now temporary home to hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who mainly come from Asian nations like India, Pakistan,Sri Lanka and elsewhere. The Human Rights Watch has issued a report on the conditions faced by Sri Lankan immigrants in the Middle East that is entitled: “Exported and Exposed: Abuses Against Sri Lankan Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.” The immigrants are mainly women and they encounter a variety of abusive behaviors such as not getting paid or being under paid, physical and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, long hours of work, confiscation of passports so they cannot readily return home, and restrictions that make it difficult for them to learn what are the norms in their new country of residence. It is estimated many of the Sri Lankan women work 18 hour days, seven days a week and receive about $100 a month for their labor.

The condition of the migrant workers is among the most ignored stories in any discussion of Middle Easter issues. Migrants constitute a rather large percent of several small nations like Kuwait or Omar. They lack leverage on the system to bring about changes and most Middle Eastern nations tend to believe that migrant workers are better off, with all the abuse, than being elsewhere.