Labor NGOs: Growing Pains

Labor NGOs in Guangdong seem to be struggling amid the inconsistent treatment from provincial government and the lower-level executives. Charlie Vest and Shawn Shieh at China Development Brief translate a detailed report from Southern Daily:

“Are we not going to be able to continue working?” Since the beginning of August, Shenzhen’s Hand-in-Hand Workers’ Activity Center has faced routine inspections by lower-level government bureaus, and this has its leader, Chen Yandi, worried. Chen’s concern is certainly not unfounded. After inspections began, the landlord of the NGO’s office terminated their lease, leaving them with the choice of either not working or having to relocate.

[…] On July 1st of this year, Guangdong’s provincial government produced, “On Promoting the Development and Regulated Management of Social Organizations,” in which the government ruled that except under special circumstances and in specific fields, social organizations in Guangdong would no longer need a professional supervising unit to sponsor them. Instead, they could register directly with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. From the perspective of social organizations, this would remove a great burden.

[…A]fter the release of the new law, someone from the Shenzhen Migrant Workers’ Center went to the Longgang Civil Affairs bureau to ask if they could register. Two weeks later, their reply was, “This is just something the media is cooking up.”

[…] Yu Jianrong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences expressed that having worked with labor organizations many times in the past, he has kept close watch on the Shenzhen “routine inspection” issue. As he understands it, a great number of these labor organizations only want to help workers who find themselves disadvantaged in modern society. They provide help and services that are beneficial towards solving conflicts between labor and capital interests, and they also help the government in solving labor disputes.

[…] At the same time, he feels that that the Guangdong provincial government is putting special importance on social construction and development.  Moreover, Shenzhen is in many respects at the forefront of the country. The government should, within the framework of social construction, regulate and guide the development of labor NGOs.

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