New annual high in August. CLB’s Strike Map recorded 186 worker protests in August, a new high for the year. The construction industry saw almost triple the incidents compared to July, with 117 strikes and protests, making up a whopping 60 percent of total incidents collected. The industry typically makes up 40-50 percent of the whole. In the manufacturing sector, our map collected 38 incidents (20 percent) and in the transportation industry, incidents accounted for 17 percent. Services came in at 5 percent.
Unpaid wages at major real estate company projects. China’s property market is in trouble, leading to negative labour effects on construction workers. Major real estate giants in China are recording losses in the first half of this year. CLB’s Strike Map logged workers asking for unpaid wages at major private real estate developers including Country Garden, Sunac Holdings, Poly Real Estate and Greenland Holdings. Nine cases involved Country Garden properties in Guangdong, Liaoning, and Henan provinces. On 24 August, a property owner in Shantou, Guangdong province, said, “I saw workers asking for wages in the sales office, saying they could not get paid their salaries owed by the contractor. They stopped working and did not complete the project.” On 31 August, workers at another Country Garden project in Shantou also protested over unpaid wages. CLB’s Workers’ Calls-for-Help Map also recorded five incidents of construction workers posting messages online to seek government attention on their wage arrears cases. In one case involving Country Garden, the local administrative departments held meetings with companies to set deadlines for workers’ wage payments. But workers followed up after the deadline to say they still hadn’t been paid or even been contacted by the companies.
Supermarkets shut down and owe wages. CLB’s Strike Map recorded three incidents of supermarket closures that have led to workers’ wage arrears in August, at Carrefour and BBK (Better Life Commercial). Carrefour workers in Chongqing protested at the store on 25 August. An online video shows more than a dozen workers holding up paper signs with one character each, together reading, “Suning Carrefour, give me back my hard-earned money!” In 2019, domestic retailer Suning took ownership of French retailer Carrefour’s China operations, and Suning recently reported that Carrefour’s business is affected by the slowdown in consumer demand and competition from online group buying platforms. Suning’s half-year report states that 106 Carrefour stores were closed already in 2023. In Hunan province on 19 August, dozens of BBK workers in Xiangtan knelt down to ask for wages, and videos show them in front of a line of police. On 30 August, BBK workers in Xiangtan threatened to jump from the building if they weren’t paid, and police and emergency personnel arrived at the scene. BBK is facing revenue declines and a net loss. In 2022, BBK closed 139 stores, with 65 more shutdowns in the first half of this year.