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Several hundred workers at Ansteel Lianzhong in Guangzhou have been on strike for six days, protesting wage cuts and moves by the company to force them to resign. The strikers have now effectively closed down the factory, which has a total workforce of around 2,000.
Two months after a dozen police broke into her apartment and dragged her away in front of her one-year-old daughter and teenage son, labour activist Zhu Xiaomei returned home on the evening of 1 February.
China Labour Bulletin Director Han Dongfang responds to the arrest of labour activists in Guangdong and the state media’s smear campaign against them.
The number of strikes and worker protests in China escalated dramatically towards the end of 2015 as the economy continued to stutter, with manufacturing, construction and mining all seeing a massive upsurge in disputes.
A group of labour activists held in detention for more than a month have been subjected to a vicious smear campaign in China’s state-run media. Many workers have now spoken out in their defence and they present a completely different picture from that in the official media.
Sanitation workers in the southern city of Guangzhou have had considerable success over the last few years in taking collective action to improve their pay and working conditions but far too many elderly cleaners and street sweepers remain vulnerable and unprotected.
The Guangzhou authorities are citing “national security” concerns in order to prevent lawyers from seeing Zeng Feiyang (see photo below) and other detained labour activists.
Two prominent labour activists have been formally detained by the Guangzhou authorities for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order,” in what appears to be a coordinated crackdown on labour groups in the city. Photo: Zeng Feiyang,  Zhu Xiaomei and He Xiaobo.
The continued slowdown in China’s manufacturing heartland has led to a marked increase in worker protests as factories close down and bosses run off without paying their employees’ wages.
Despite ample legal protection, most women fired when they become pregnant still struggle to defend their rights because they lack concrete evidence or cannot afford to go to court.

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