Home · Articles · News · NikeLeaks Cables: Asia · Two New Labor NGOs - Different Missions, Different Government Reaction
December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Asia
 

Two New Labor NGOs - Different Missions, Different Government Reaction

     
Tags:
Reference ID: 09GUANGZHOU409    
Created:  2009-07-07 08:43    
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44    
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY    
Origin: Consulate Guangzhou

                
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGZ #0409/01 1880843
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070843Z JUL 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0751
INFO RUEHGZ/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0201
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0112
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0188
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0184

UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000409
 
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
 
STATE FOR EAP/CM
STATE PASS USTR CHINA OFFICE
 
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD ECON PGOV CH
SUBJECT: Two New Labor NGOs - Different Missions, Different
Government Reaction
 
REF: GUANGZHOU 192
 
(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified.  Please protect
accordingly. Not for release outside U.S. government channels. Not
for internet publication.
 
¶1. (SBU) Summary and comment: How much room do labor
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have to operate in the Pearl
River Delta (PRD)?  The different experiences of two new
organizations show that it depends on the group's mission.  The
Green Grass Workers Service Department is trying to expose poor
working conditions in local factories.  It has not been able to
register as an NGO and has faced government interference.  The
Zhuhai Center for Social Work Facilitators, on the other hand, has
less confrontational goals -- helping migrant workers adjust to
living and working far from home.  The Zhuhai Center is fully
registered and enjoys a cooperative relationship with the
government-controlled labor union.  Green Grass's experience sheds
some light on the limits of the Chinese government's tolerance of
labor NGO activities.  However, the fact that it is allowed to
operate at all is perhaps a step forward.  End summary and comment.
 
Different Missions
------------------
 
¶2. (SBU) Two new labor NGOs have recently opened shop in the PRD
with very different missions.  The Green Grass Workers Service
Department was founded in April 2008 as the Shenzhen office of New
York-based China Labor Watch.  It focuses on reporting on working
conditions in PRD factories and on the treatment workers.  According
to Yang Min, one of Green Grass's employees, it often cooperates
with international brand name companies like Adidas and Nike to
perform undercover investigations of their suppliers.  Yang Min told
us that after its reports are released, factory owners often take
corrective measures to improve working conditions.
 
¶3. (SBU) Meanwhile, across the Pearl River in Zhuhai, the Zhuhai
Center for Social Work Facilitators opened its doors in December
¶2008.  The Zhuhai Center is a branch of The Culture and
Communication Center for Facilitators, a Beijing-based NGO.  Its
mission is to help local migrant workers improve their quality of
life and adjust to the challenges of living far away from home.
According to the center's director, Yang Daimao, the events it has
organized include a photo exhibit showing the life and work of
migrant laborers, a play about the challenges they face and a debate
on how to improve their living and working conditions.  The center
also offers language training in English and Cantonese and some
counseling services.
 
Different Treatment
-------------------
 
¶4. (SBU) Government reaction to the two new NGOs has been
dramatically different.  Green Grass's Yang Min told us that the
authorities have kept a close eye on her organization since it began
operations in Shenzhen, pointing out that foreign-funded NGOs are
usually subject to closer scrutiny.  She said that the government
had intervened twice in projects that Green Grass was working on,
asking the organization to suspend operations in one case.  Green
Grass has been unsuccessful in its attempt to register with the
Civil Affairs Bureau as an NGO and instead had to register as a
private enterprise with the Administration of Industry and
Commerce.
 
¶5. (SBU) The Zhuhai Center, in contrast, has a very cooperative
relationship with the government.  It has successfully registered as
an NGO with the Zhuhai Civil Affairs Bureau.  It works closely with
the government-controlled labor union at Flextronics Corporation,
the largest local employer.  A representative of the Flextronics
union participated in econoff's visit to the center's office.
Flextronics funds most of the center's operation, and most of the
center's clients are Flextronics employees.
 
Different Challenges
--------------------
 
¶6. (SBU) Green Grass's Yang Min identified child labor in the PRD as
a top concern of the organization.  She noted that child labor in
most local factories is voluntary and the underage employees use
false or borrowed identification documents to get their jobs.  She
said parents often support the efforts of their children to work in
the factories.  In addition, Yang Min expressed concern that the
 
global economic downturn was increasing the government's tendency
rule in favor of factory owners in labor disputes with migrant
workers.
 
¶7. (SBU) At the Zhuhai Center, Yang Daimao said the organization's
main concern was attracting more volunteers to work at the center.
The center has a staff of five paid employees and about 40
volunteers.  She said that only about half of the volunteers fall in
to a group of "core volunteers" who are active in most of the
center's programs.  Yang Daimao explained that attracting more
active participation from workers would be essential to achieving
the center's goals for improving the lives of migrant laborers.
 
JACOBSEN
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 
 

 

 

Web Design for magazines

Close
Close
Close