BEIJING – The government calls it “sealed management.” China’s capital has started gating and locking some of its lower-income neighborhoods overnight, with police or security checking identification papers around the clock, in a throwback to an older style of control.
It’s Beijing’s latest effort to reduce rising crime often blamed on the millions of rural Chinese migrating to cities for work. The capital’sCommunist Party secretary wants the approach promoted citywide. But some state media and experts say the move not only looks bad but imposes another layer of control on the already stigmatized, vulnerable migrants.
So far, gates have sealed off 16 villages in the sprawling southern suburbs, where migrants are attracted to cheaper rents and in some villages outnumber permanent residents 10 to one.
“In some ways, this is like the conflict between Americans and illegal immigrants in the States. The local residents feel threatened by the influx of migrants,” Huang Youqin, an associate professor of geography at the University at Albany in New York who has studied gating and political control in China, said in an e-mail. “The risk is that the government can control people’s private life if it wants to.”
The gated villages are the latest indignity for China’s migrant workers, who already face limited access toschooling and government services and are routinely blamed by city folk for rising crime. Used to the hardship of the farm and the lack of privilege, migrants seem to be taking the new controls in their stride.
Jia Yangui said he accepts the new system as a trade-off for escaping farm work in the northern province of Shanxi. He arrived in Beijing less than two months ago and lives with a relative in one of the gated villages, Dashengzhuang. He sells oily pancakes just inside one of the gates.
“Anyway, it’s not as strict as before, when we migrants would be detained on the way to the toilet,” said Jia’s relative, a middle-aged woman who gave her family name as Zheng.
“Sealed management” looks like this: Gates are placed at the street and alley entrances to the villages, which are collections of walled compounds sprinkled with shops and outdoor vendors. The gates are locked between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for one main entrance manned by security guards or police, there to check identification papers. Security guards roam the villages by day.
“Closing up the village benefits everyone,” read one banner which was put up when the first, permanent gated village was introduced in April.
But some Chinese question whether problems arising from growing gap between the country’s rich and poor can be fixed with locks and surveillance cameras.
“It’s a ridiculous idea!” said Li Wenhua, who does private welfare work with migrant workers in Beijing. “This is definitely not a good long-term strategy. The government should dig up the in-depth causes of crime and improve basic public services such as education and health care to these people.”
Crime has been rising steadily over the past two decades, as China moved from state planning to free markets and Chinese once locked into set jobs began moving around the country for work. Violent crime in China jumped 10 percent last year, with 5.3 million reported cases of homicide, robbery, and rape, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reported in February.
“Sealed management” was born in the village of Laosanyu during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when the government was eager to control its migrant population. The village used it again during the sensitive 60th anniversary of Communist China last year. Officials then reported the idea to township officials, who decided to make the practice permanent this year.
“Eighty percent of the permanent residents applauded the practice,” said Guo Ruifeng, deputy director of Laosanyu’s village committee. He didn’t say how many migrants approved, though they outnumber the locals by 7,000 to 700.
“Anyway, they should understand that it is all for their safety,” he said. Guards only check papers if they see anything suspicious, he said.
Gating has been an easy and effective way to control population throughout Chinese history, said Huang, thegeography professor. In past centuries, some walled cities would impose curfews and close their gates overnight. In the first decades of communist rule, the desire for top-down organization and control showed in work-unit compounds, usually guarded and enclosed.
As the economy has grown, privately run gated communities with their own security have emerged in the biggest cities, catering to well-to-do Chinese and expatriates, offering upscale houses and facilities like pools and gyms.
The new gated villages in Beijing are very different.
“To put it crudely, gated communities in the city are a way for the upper middle-class and urban rich to keep out trespassers, whereas gated villages represent a way for the state to ‘keep in’ or contain the problem of ‘migrant workers’ who live in these villages,” Pow Choon-Pieu, an assistant professor of geography at the National University of Singapore who has studied the issue, said in an e-mail.
Jiang Zhengqing, a supermarket owner in the gated compound of Laosanyu, told the China Daily newspaper in May that he doesn’t even know if he’ll be in business next year because of the drop in customers.
“Before, the streets were crowded with people in the afternoon but now the village is deserted,” he said. “I can’t understand why the government has invested such a large amount of money into putting up these useless fences, rather than repair our dirty public restrooms and bumpy roads.”
Posts Tagged ‘labour conditions’
Posted by clandestina on 20 July 2010
Posted by clandestina on 29 March 2010
An effective response to strikebreaking
Michaniona vessel bosses attempted yesterday, March 28, to transfer 12 Egyptian fishworkers from Keratsini, Athens, to Thessaloniki, on a bus. After dealing with the confusion of contradictory information, the fishworkers at Michaniona made this known and the mobilization that followed prevented the bosses’ plan from materializing.
Since early people had started gathering at the Thessaloniki bus station, train station and at other terminal stations so that to obstruct scabs’ arrival. Members of the PAME, the Solidarity Assembly and other groups were checking and controling those spots in parallel with the strikers who kept arriving from Michaniona. Late at night, the bulk of people gathered at the central bus station, which was thought as the most probable spot the scabs to arrive at; both other spots were kept constantly under control, though.
At 2 a.m. the bus arrived and the “dialogue” between the strikers and the would-be scabs concluded with the latter going to a place of reception for some time under the surveillance of strikers and stay there until they got the first bus back to Athens. The excuse they used was that they were not aware they would work for the Michaniona bosses and thought they would work for other employers in Northern Greece.
The 4 trawler bosses who would accompany them, after having been informed about what they were to meet at the bus station, deserted the van which would drive the fishworkers to Michaniona. The driver who would drive that van also left a little bit too hasty and crushed his car some meters along the road.
Generally speaking, and despite the vague and contradictory information, the people mobilized were many, they responded fast and effectively and stayed until late at night. On the other hand, if this is the best the bosses can do in terms of organisation, then things might not be that easy for them.
Of course, since the state’s service for labour employment (ΟΑΕΔ) and the Ministry of Employment have clearly taken the bosses’ side and has deemed the hiring of scabs legal (despite the fact that the strike is for now legal on a court’s decision), the trawlers bosses have already started hiring Bulgarian fishworkers in an effort to pave the road for strikebreaking. The Egyptian Fishworkers’ Union has already taken legal action against this but the injunction will not be brought to court earlier than April 16.
The way the strikers will deal with the actions of the bosses and their state allies will mean a lot for the future of the strike.
Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Short Reports | Tagged: Egyptian immigrants, fishworkers, ΟΑΕΔ, labour conditions, Nea Michaniona, solidarity, strikes, Thessaloniki | Leave a Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 4 February 2010
Yesterday Wednesday Feb 3, the Egyptian fishworkers’s strike was brought for the fourth time to court. The trial’s outcome for the first time was positive. The court decided for the first time that the strike is not “illegal and abusive”.
Unsurprisingly this was the first time the court examined the case’s essence, unlike the three previous courts when the strike was declared “illegal and abusive” on various technical legalistic “irregularities” (for example on the pretext of notification of the strike to the “wrong recipient” or “at a wrong time”, etc.).
In this trial as well, two witnesses were examined, one from the shipowners side, the chairman of the cooperative of the ship owners D. Ntaoultzis, and a witness for the defence of fishworkers, the Secretary of the Trade Union Center of Thessaloniki, Zarianopoulos.
At the beginning of the process in front of dozens of fishworkers, people in solidarity and ship owners , the judge asked police officers to come forward and stay in front of the judges.
The issues addressed included the non delivery of necessary documents by the ship owners to the workers for the latter to be able to renew their residence permits, which is a very urgent thing. Fishworkers defence also referred to the fishworkers uninsured status in case of work accidents and the assignment of the [yellow] workers union – which does not include the mass of Egyptians – with the calculation of shares.
The ship owners representative admitted indirectly that he had taken action to have scabs sent to Michaniona (in cooperation with the labour representative of the Egyptian embassy). The issue of the document proposed by the ship owners as a settlement of demands [see previous posts/updates] targetting active strikers and prohibiting political or syndicalist activity to Egyptians was also discussed. The ship owners representative argued that the process of calculating the shares is accessible and transparent to the fishworkers, who refuted this by saying that at the crucial time of the calculation they are still on board. He also said that he does not think it is necessary that Egyptians are represented at the process and that “it would be good if Greeks had those jobs to combat unemployment”- prejudice towards foreign workers was obvious at all times. The ship owners lawyer warned the strikers that they “should be careful, because things will be wild from now on!”. He also said that the strikers are misguided by CP / PAME trade union, which supports them to gain their votes in view of the granting of voting rights to immigrants with the new immigration bill.
The strikers said after the trial’s first day “our struggle is a struggle for dignity”. Dignity will be the criterion of their decisions for further action.
Despite the good news with the court’s decisions, the strikers are in a very difficult situation in terms of money. Today there is a meeting of the Solidarity Assembly at the Thessaloniki Antiracist Initiative’s place [ermou & venizelou str.] for practical solidarity coordination.
– > previous update
Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Events, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Short Reports | Tagged: Egyptian immigrants, fishworkers, labour conditions, Nea Michaniona, Northern Greece, solidarity, strikes, Thessaloniki | Leave a Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 3 February 2010
This is a Forum of Migrants in Crete press release.
For the death of the Indian worker in Varipetro, Chania, on Sunday, 31/1/2010
3 FEB 2010
Labour accidents are tragic, shocking events. But what is more than shocking is what these people die of: inadequate protection measures.
One more spectre that should haunt the sleep of state bureaucracies, trade union bosses, and the business world.
Another worker killed, due to inadequate safety measures.
He fell from scaffolds, from a 6 meters height …
We note that many immigrant workers have already lost their lives in a working regime verging on cruelty. We are not only talking about the labour intense and unsafe conditions, but also about the long shifts, the ridiculous wages and of course the uninsured status. It is the harsh reality, which the Greek politicians do not see and nobody refers to now that the new bill on citizenship and immigration is discussed. It is the hard fact that some Greek people refuse to see, entrenched as they are in insecurity and fear and the conviction that they have discovered the “enemy” of their wealth: immigrants. Yet, it is immigrants -uninsured and underpaid – who build their houses, who look after their elderly relatives and their household, who pick fruit from their fields, who do all those jobs that Greeks refuse to do anymore.
We require that the state protects workers and implements the labour law.
We demand that trade union leaders deter further accidents and deaths by having unions’ and associations’ gates wide open for their immigrants colleagues (with or without papers) who should be fully entitled to the rights of membership
Let us not wait passively for the next “accidental death”.
Greek and foreign workers, united, let us claim now everything that is ours.
Let us push with our actions the employers, who we know very well will never show concern for us.
No more deaths, no more crippled workers.
Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Short Reports, Undeclared War news | Tagged: labour conditions, Crete, Chania, Forum of Immigrants in Crete, Indian immigrants, construction workers, labour "accidents", deaths | Leave a Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 26 January 2010
most recent update in this post
What happened today in the third trial of the fishworkers strike (the strike was brought anew to court).
The judge of the Thessaloniki Court gave the fishworkers’ lawyers a deadline to produce by 12 tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan 2010)
noon the necessary documents proving their claims against the trawlers bosses.These documents, according to the legal defence of the fishworkers, prove a series of abuses committed by the trawlers owners, including:
– The illegal practice of inviting other fishworkers, essentially to work as scabs,
– The deception of some Egyptians who were misled to sign a labour agreement in Arabic and in Greek language, which was very different from the original English version [the valid one should disputed occur] which contained onerous labor terms*.
– The fact that “employers unilaterally delegated to “representatives” of a “union of Michaniona fishworkers” (a union which excludes the overwhelming majority of Egyptian) to calculate the “share”, with no control whatsoever exerted by the workers themselves; thus, the trawlers bosses were in position of paying the fishworkers as little as they wished ” testified today on court by the defence witness Secretary of Thessaloniki Trade Unions Sotiris Zarianopoulos.
– The fact that the trawlers owners refused to provide the fishworkers with copies of their individual employment contracts, which are necessary for them in order to renew their residence permits, with a view to have them deported and replace them with other, cheaper fishworkers.
For these allegations, a witness for the prosecution said that the she either did not know of those facts or denied them, rousing a storm of protests by tens of strikers who were present in the court room and watched the process. Amid strong protests over allegations and arguments of the trawlers owners’ lawyer (who argued inter alia that “foreign workers shouldn’t be allowed to come here and establish unions at will …”), the procedure was halted until tomorrow for the strikers’ lawyer to produce the required documents.
The trial was attended by the CP MP Sophia Kalantidou (who had submitted interpellations to the parliament on the issue), the Secretary of Thessaloniki Trade Unions Center Sotiris Zarianopoulos (PAME), the Deputy Secretary of the Thessaloniki Trade Unions Center , Despina Charalambides (Aftonomi Paremvasi –Radical Left Coalition), the President of the Thessaloniki Builders Union Vassilis Revas (PAME) (last Monday a press conference by the fishworkers and S. Zarianopoulos took place at the offices of the Trade Union of Thessaloniki) and several leftist and independent supporters of the struggle including the Soliodarity Assembly with the Fishworkers’ Strike.
In a gesture of support to the strikers who have found themselves in the recent months in a deplorable financial situation, student unions, anti-racist, anti-capitalist and leftist organizations and the Solidarity Assembly called for today Tuesday at 6 pm a solidarity rally. On Friday Jan 29 the Assembly organizes a Concert at 9 pm at the University “to support the Egyptian fishworkers in Mihaniona”. [SEE RIGHT SIDEBAR ON THIS BLOG]
* The unacceptable “lost in translation” Greek text of ‘agreement’ which misled five (of a total 130) of Michaniona Egyptian fishworkers included the following condition in paragraph 6: “The Egyptian fishworkers should not be involved in any Greek political party or body related to labour obligations and rights “!
Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Events, Short Reports | Tagged: Egyptian immigrants, fishworkers, labour conditions, Nea Michaniona, Northern Greece, solidarity, strikes, Thessaloniki | 1 Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 22 January 2010
- personal communication
After the first court decision that deemed last week the strike unlawful , the second trial’s decision came yesterday and was also against the strike. The strikers go on with their struggle with 24 hour strike decisions.
Trawlers bosses also continue with their effort to bring other Egyptians as scabs. According to Rhizospastis newspaper, “agents” in Athens are into this, and a meeting took place in the trawler owners offices in Michaniona, between the bosses and an “agent” (referred as “smuggler” by the newspaper).
The Egyptians themselves estimate that they will probably be in position to reach some agreement with their compatriots, should any of them be brought as scabs, since it is highly unlikely that the people allured would be aware of the situation.
“If they attemt to bring scabs, instead of 250 strikers they will have 400”. This is one of the things some of the strikers shared with the attendance of the successful Info Event of Wednesday at the Thessaloniki Polytechnic. About seventy people were there.
“The strikers talked in a way that both moved us and strenghtened our conviction that their fight is a fight for us all. With dignity and determination to go all the way with their struggle, they spoke warmly and directly. In other words, they “forced” everyone to stand beside them and try to put forward solidarity action on even more serious basis. Besides the ultimate goal, the victory of the strike, we can learn from them and get to know each other. We have to learn how to intervene (or even attempt to do so) on a sound basis, with a view to real links with the people in such struggles, and to the social and not simply the political. The strikers also talked about how they understand solidarity and made clear two things: they want to avoid at any case extreme conflicts between forces supporting the strike, as well as any action that could endanger their physical presence at the village. Under current conditions these seem reasonable and understandable. In other words, if one believes that this is the time to resolve disputes with the Communist Party, there is clearly a problem…”.
The further actions decided at the event were
- mass leafleting at the Thessaloniki fishmarket on Saturday
- a solidarity march for Tuesday January 26 at Thessaloniki
- a solidarity concert on Friday, January 29 at Kamara square.
Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Events, Short Reports | Tagged: Egyptian immigrants, fishing workers, labour conditions, Nea Michaniona, Northern Greece, solidarity, strikes, Thessaloniki | 1 Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 19 January 2010
The case of the employers against the strike of the fishworkers was brought anew to court yesterday.
The fishworkers are now on strike under a decision of their own Union. The bosses want the court to decide an injunction against the strike, which means that for each day of the strike the Union and the fishworkers should compensate the owners for the damages.
The arguments of the employers were:
a) notification of the strike was not sent to the pertinent body; they now said that the employers’ body to which the strike was officialy made known to (the Greek Shipowners Union for Middle Fisheries – ΠΕΠΜΑ – is a nationwide body of owners who only deals with … European policies! The exact reverse of what they had claimed on the first trial, namely that this body – ΠΕΠΜΑ – was the one that the fishworkers should sent the notice for the strike to and not to the local Union of ship owners, as the strikers had done when they first declared a strike. The bosses twist things the way it suits them of course.
b) Some of the strike’s requests, for instance the insurance fund under which they have to be covered for labor accidents and illnesses, is not the business of the ship-owners but of the pertinent government Ministry (of course it had been the ship owners who had lobbied at the Ministry and succeeded in making the unfavourable for the workers insurance fund tranfer).
c) Above all, the bosses claimed, it is the Union of Nea Mihaniona Fishworkers the one legally assigned to be present at the fish auctions, weight the catches and calculate the workers’ share; they also claimed that the Egyptians were never obstructed from exerting partly control to the processes. This shows the central role of that yellow union for the ship owners. What the ship owners try to avoid at any cost is to recognize the collective, autonomous body of the Egyptian workers, and thus lose control, while on n the other hand, the key demand of the Egyptians is just that, that through their Union they have control of the weighting processes and the calculation of shares, since they the yellow union is of course not to be trusted.
The strike does harm the ship-owners a lot: they lose millions.
The Egyptians are determined to continue. The bosses, on the other hand, are probably ready to replace them with the help of the Egyptian embassy. The most important battle will be done if scabs come, from Egypt or elsewhere. In that case, there will be blood, since the Egyptians are really steadfast to their struggle.
Whether we like it or not ΠΑΜΕ / the Communist Party is the only one with the power, the networks and the mechanism to support the battle in Mihaniona . Those of us who want to support the struggle and we are outside ΠΑΜΕ / the Communist Party we have to go and really see what we can do: see what small and practical things we can do, such as make the strike known in Thessaloniki, collect money etc.
The court decision about the strike is to be issued tomorrow; the strike continues, tomorrow there is the info event at Thessaloniki Polytechnic.
Posted in Action & Struggle Reports, Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Events, Short Reports, Undeclared War news | Tagged: Egyptian immigrants, fishing workers, labour conditions, Nea Michaniona, Northern Greece, strikes, Thessaloniki | 1 Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 16 January 2010
Posted in Calls to Action, Campaigns, Appeals & Petitions, Events, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases | Tagged: Egyptian immigrants, fishing workers, labour conditions, Nea Michaniona, Northern Greece, strikes, Thessaloniki | 1 Comment »
Posted by clandestina on 9 November 2009
This is a translation of this enet article. Many thanks to Efi for her translation.
Stapsa for clandestinenglish
The immigrants’ piggy bank
Immigrants work a lot, live in small apartments, don’t have credit cards, don’t go out much, do not take loans, but do use public transportation.
However, the lifestyle of immigrants living in Greece is not full of “don’t” and negations. Research shows that regardless of the financial crisis, they go on saving money and they take every opportunity for small housing investments. Data from Central Bank of Greece show that immigrants’ saving accounts outnumber the average savings of Greek citizens; out of a total of 300.000 bank accounts in Greek banks, the majority belongs to Albanian depositors.
394 million Euros in bank transfers.
In contrast to previous years, immigrant depositors seem to increasingly trust Greek banks. According to the Central Bank of Albania, there is a 6, 1% decrease in deposits in comparison to last year. Even though international bank transfers have decreased from January until June 2009, the total amount of remittances has reached 394 million Euros.
The immigrants still save money. D. Aspassios comments that, according to data collected from research interviews conducted for the Department of Balkan Studies, West Macedonia University, “there is a significant increase in the number of immigrants who currently own a savings account compared to their first working years in Greece”. Immigrants save money in order to make future buys and investments in Greece. Most of the participants in Aspassios’ research stated that they were still sending money to accounts in their home countries, but the amounts are smaller than in the past years.
According to real estate agencies in Attica, in the first months of 2009, 40% of available housing -mainly older constructions- was mostly sold to Albanian citizens.
It seems that the financial crisis is not affecting immigrants that much both because they are adopting more flexible consumption attitudes than the indigenous Greeks, and they adapt their saving strategy accordingly.
However, immigrants’ consumption attitudes are based on the products’ price than on quality- with the exemption of foods (source: “Survey on consumer habits and standards in culturally diverse groups”- Cross-cultural management and technological improvement).
Credit cards and loans
Immigrants don’t like taking loans, neither from Greek banks (85%) nor from banks based in their country of origin (92, 7%). 68% of them do not have or use credit cards, although some of them have cash cards. It is not coincidental that most immigrant entrepreneurs in Northern Greece start up their businesses without taking any bank loans. They support their start- ups either through prior personal capital savings or though intrafamily loans.
Moreover, one third of immigrant women “cannot save money, since income is not enough”. 53, 1% of the remaining two thirds prefer opening a savings account in a Greek bank; a smaller number of women sends money to relatives in the country of origin. Female immigrants either do not use or do not trust banking systems.