There have been lots of changes in Chinas workforce throughout the years. Due to an increasing rate in suicides and people running away from their employers because they are being forced to work ridiculous hours and for an extremely low wage. This has forced employers to increase the workers wage and to be given added family/lifetime benefits. Young workers are less willing to work long hours for a dismal wage. They are realizing their worth and seeing a dramatic increase in goods being made in china and the demand for them.
China witnessed their first work related strike, where Honda saw 2000 workers walk off the production line in May last year. It was only when their bosses gave into their demand for a higher wage they agreed to go back to work. This inspired dozens of other factories across china to demand better pay for the hard work they do. Nowadays Chinese people are finding their voice and realizing their value to the companies they are working for. However, even though workers are paid more, living costs are higher. So the salary is actually even lower than it was before, if you take the ever increasing living expenses into consideration. There were 90 thousand cases of labor conflicts in 1995 and over 800 thousand in 2009. The next generation will follow this trend and speak out for their interests and in years to come this may even influence Chinas political structure.
Employers in china are finding it increasingly hard to find workers, due to the fact that people have more choice now than they did 10 years ago. Job fairs are held throughout the year and have witnessed a drastic change. The jobs available far outnumber applications, only two years ago crowds scrambled to find any position they could but now people have the luxury of choice and employers are finding themselves competing with other companies to give workers the best benefits to entice them in.
Workers today will not put up with as much hardship as they did only 20 years ago. People differ from generation to generation. In the 1960’s people where used to enduring hardship known to the Chinese as “eating bitterness”, they worried about having adequate clothing and food but now people talk about the enjoyment of life and eating nice meals out. Before it was about it is about being prosperous and secure. The stream of people migrating to work is noticeably different; unlike before they are not just here to feed their families they are there to have their share of Chinas “economic miracle”. Workers are getting younger, getting a better education, and have bigger dreams than their predecessors. They do not want to spend their whole life in the same factory doing the same thing for 50 years.
In a documentary about “changing the face of the Chinese labor force” one of the managers of a factory stated “Workers are now spoilt their eagerness to learn and work hard is lower than those born in the 60’s”
I think this statement is wrong, it’s just that the younger generation is more interested in succeeding in life and being part of the new up incoming world, they have more ambitions and more opportunities than previous generations did and are using them to their advantage. Today’s new generation of laborers will be demanding more for their hard labor, knowing they are the driving force behind Chinas export economy.
All though it is looking quite positive for workers on the Chinese production lines for the future it is feared that some of these changes will put pressure on other parts of Chinas culture and will get worse as a consequence. How women have been treated in china has been questioned over the years. Women are under pressure from: men, their families, work and now an added pressure from themselves to prove to their families that they can work hard and earn their own money, taking control of their own lives. Over past generations women have been seen as belongings to their families or husbands, if someone wanted to know if a woman had a husband they would ask “do you have a Zui?” Zui mean master this instantly suggests that once married they are owned, under the control of their husbands. But now women want to escape this lifestyle and the old traditions. However it is said because of this and the struggles companies will face in the next 20 years women will face a more terrifying future. There will be the threat of abduction, a significant increase in trafficking women / prostitution, and sexual violence towards women and young children will increase. The main reason for this prediction is due to women’s increasing want for more independence and freedom. This will eventually lead to an increase to the lengths people will go to stay in control, and try to keep up their traditions. Also due to workers across China unwilling to work for these low wages, it is predicted that children and women will be abducted and made to work long hours for little or no money. It is already being seen today and will only get worse as employers get more desperate.