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Panel VI: China

January 9, 2009

The reality behind the myths

Predictions about apparel production after the end of quotas had the vast majority of production moving to China. At the time, there was much talk of Chinese workers "winning" in the competition for production orders.

May Wong

 May Wong, Globalization Monitors

May Wong of Hong Kong-based Globalization Monitor challenged these myths, telling the seminar participants that Chinese workers face the same kind of obstacles that workers in the Americas face - long hours, low pay, harassment, abuse, and threats to health and safety. Chinese workers do not have the freedom to organize independent unions. And, like workers in the Americas, as local wages and other production costs rise they are now seeing production orders shift from China to lower-wage countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Despite these obstacles, Chinese workers are engaging in work stoppages and other protests, as well as making legal challenges, when their rights are violated, said May. She also described recent campaigns in which her organization has defended workers who have suffered serious injuries and illnesses from exposure to toxic substances.

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 *The articles found throughout the report are compiled from international publications. We've posted them here with the intention of promoting greater knowledge of topics related to the garment industry and labour rights. The articles posted are property of the authors and the original publications. If you know any reason why we should not share them here, please let us know.

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