The Telegraph: Three labour rights leaders detained in China as worker unrest grows

China Labour Bulletin is quoted in the following article. Copyright remains with the original publisher

By Neil Connor, Beijing

07 Dec 2015

Up to 15 labour activists have been detained by Chinese police, according to rights groups and media, in a move that illustrates Beijing's growing anxiety over worker unrest.

Zeng Feiyang, director of the Panyu Workers’ Centre in the southern city of Guangzhou, was held along with Zhu Xiaomei, a labour activist and mother of a one-year-old baby, according to the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin (CLB).

The campaign group and Chinese business magazine Caijing also named another local activist, He Xiaobo, as being detained. Mr He runs a group in nearby Foshan which helps injured workers.

China’s economic slowdown has seen many factories being closed or relocated, leading to increasing unrest among workers who are often left without compensation.

The effects of a shift in manufacturing to other parts of Asia where lower wages are paid – such as Vietnam – is being most severely felt in China’s southern manufacturing heartland.

Guangdong saw a record 56 strikes last month, more than double any other province and a huge increase from 23 incidents in July, CLB said. Labour protests in China typically peak in January, ahead of the Lunar New Year when many migrant workers return to their rural homeland.

“According to information from several lawyer in Guangdong, up to 15 staff and workers from labour NGOs have been taken away by police,” said the online report by Caijing on Saturday which has since been deleted, a common practice on China’s Internet which is heavily censored by authorities.

The CLB report said that several “labour activists and workers were released after being questioned by police for several hours on Friday”.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has launched a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent since assuming power in 2012.

Independent trade unions are banned in China, which recognises only the All-China Federation of Trade Unions as a means of solving disputes.

Additional reporting by Ailin Tang

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