MAC: Mines and Communities

China update

Published by MAC on 2007-08-30

China update

30th August 2007

Three weeks ago, we spotlighted the serious cosequences of blaming so-called "natural" events for corporate or administrative negligence in protecting miners' working environments. This followed the likely drowning of some 180 coal miners at Chinese coal workings in Shandong; blame for which was officially attributed to abnormal floods [See:]

The Chinese Minister of Civil Affairs thereupon announced that, since these deaths were not classifianle as "accidents" but due to "natural disaster", the government couldn't pay compensation to their bereaved families .

Although the minister has since authorised some payments, according to the China Labour Bulletin (CLB) any implication that the government "was somehow doing the victims' families a favour by providing them with compensation is highly opportunistic and irresponsible."

.Violence was recently meted out against workers protesting at misappropriation of their redundancy payments at a coal mine in Hubei province. The previous month a strike was held in Sichuan, by employees of a cement plant taken over by Lafarge, who claim they were awarded derisory sevrance payments and left without any welfare safety net.

Comments CLB: "[It] is becoming increasingly common for management and local government to respond with violence to peaceful workers' protests. Some company owners hire gangs of local thugs to do their dirty work, while those with influence in local government can often rely on the police to break up protests or strikes that threaten their interests."

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