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30,000 Workers Strike in Dongguan, Robots Planned As Replacements

Posted: 04/18/2014 2:58 pm

robot worker labor factory

Labor strife in Guangdong can be had to generalize: as some labor disputes flare up and workers are granted concessions, other labor protesters are convicted for “disturbing social order”. And so, we have the following pieces of news, both announced recently.

There are currently 30,000 workers are on strike at the Yu Yuan Industrial shoe making factory complex in Dongguan, the Associated Press reports. Workers have been protesting the company’s lack of social security and welfare benefits, and have been staging periodic work stoppages at the factory since April 5.

Yu Yuan makes components used in shoes by Nike, Adidas, Reebok and New Balance in a gigantic complex made up of ten separate factories. The Nanfang had first told you about this labor dispute back on April 7.

SEE: Foxconn to Replace Shenzhen Workers with Robots

Striker Cui Tiangang, 31, was adamant on the demands made by the workers. Cui said, “We expect at least an explanation, to give us an answer… We will keep on striking if there is no offer.”

If true to claims made by the organizers, this protest is the largest strike of its kind to ever take place in China. As historic an occasion that may be, Cui’s solidarity for his fellow worker may just be a quaint notion in the not-too distant future.

An industrial development guideline issued by the Guangzhou municipal government is encouraging the use of robots instead of human labor by providing companies with cash rebates. In fact, Guangzhou plans to have 80 percent of all its manufacturing production to be performed by robots instead of humans by 2020.

READ: Strike by Sanitation Workers in Guangzhou
Leaves the City Messy, But Wins a Pay Raise

That’s not all: the Guangzhou government is proposing to construct two or three robot industrial development zones. Each of these in turn will make 100,000 robot units a year by 2020.

It’s simply great that waves upon waves of robots will be given the jobs necessary to provide for their robot families, but a reliance upon technology does not always solve the problem at hand as seen in the documentary about the decline of American prosperity, Robocop (1987).

Sure, it will be great to reap the rewards of a worker that won’t go on strike, and will neither arrest nor harm any senior executives of OCP. Luo Jun, executive chairman of the International Robotics and Intelligent Equipment Industry Alliance, predicts the annual output value gained from the robotics industry in China will equal 300 billion yuan (US$48 billion) in 10 years.

READ: Dongguan Workers on Strike at Samsung Supply Factory

However, industry experts are warning against an over-reliance upon the Western market and its technology as well as the danger of overcapacity. At that point, both robots and workers will be out of a job.

Manufacturing production is a huge industry for China and if this sector should ever suffer a economic breakdown with catastropic consequences, we may be referring to Robocop more often. If it isn’t “I’ll buy that for a dollar!” then it will be this:

“Riches, leave.”

Photo: Robotics Business Review

More stories:
Bra Workers Strike After Being Told to “Jump Off a Roof”
Another Suicide at Foxconn? Employee Jumps Off 9th Floor After Slitting Wrists
Another Worker Plummets to His Death At Foxconn
Guangdong Factory Workers Strike After Being Insulted By Boss

  • Zen my Ass

    I don’t feel like being sarcastic here: China is obviously overpopulated and an eventual switch to massive automation in factories could put out of job millions of people… Riots might ensue.

    • charlesliu

      Even worse, society may become disharmonious. Oh no.

  • Mangrove

    Factory workers will leave their employer for RMB 100 more per month. There isn’t loyalty among factory workers. Perhaps they are cutting off their nose in spite of their face? Factories are scrambling to permanently replace workers because of their unreliability. When 30, 50 or even 60% of your workers do not return after CNY, even though you try to provide a good environment and fair wage … you begin to look for alternatives.

    The factory worker today is his/her own worse nightmare and they will soon realize that their unreasonable demands on employers will backfire.

    Labor unions in the USA helped to encourage domestic manufactures to move to China … now it’s happening here and factories are seriously looking for alternatives to hiring Chinese workers and/or just getting out of China period.

    Instant gratification, get while you can attitude is more than evident among China’s young workers. Everyone wants a BMW tomorrow and wants to be president of the company today … little to do with paying your dues, education and/or hard work.

    • charlesliu

      The article didn’t get into it, but yeah, there once was a huge factory industry in the north east, and measures like you describe resulted in dongbei become less so.

      Also: there apparently is another exodus from Guangdong that doesn’t involve a prostitution crackdown. Migrant workers are started to go to other places to find work that isn’t in Guangdong.

      • Mangrove

        Who will buy all those empty apartments?

        Anyway, now that the KTV’s and massage parlors are closed and the shine of Houjieland tarnished, reckon it is time to migrate.


    Dongguan robot sex workers…..not a good idea

    • Mangrove

      Many were like robots anyway. Well ah … at least that’s what I’ve been told.

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