June 10, 2011
China treats Greece as a cheap labor market
I wrote earlier about how European companies now feel free to abuse US workers the way that US companies abuse workers in the less developed world. Now come reports that China has also turned the tables and Chinese companies are abusing European workers, as described in this story about the giant Chinese shipping company Cosco.
Cosco doesn't allow unions or collective bargaining among its 500-plus Greek workers. The unions report that Cosco workers are largely unskilled and working on a temporary basis, with no benefits. Despite persistent rumors about their labor conditions, until now no Cosco workers have spoken out to the media.
But a former Cosco worker, who had just been sacked, spoke to NPR about work conditions on the Chinese-run pier, on the condition that his name not be used. The worker says he regularly worked eight hours a day with no meal breaks and no toilet breaks.
"I think their actions are breaking the law," the worker said. "The rights are to have something to eat around 12 o'clock [and] to have our breaks, and not work like a dog straight [through] from morning till afternoon."
He says workers were told by supervisors to urinate into the sea, rather than taking toilet breaks. Those operating straddle carriers had to take cups up into their cabins to urinate into, and he says they were not given breaks, either, despite the clear dangers of operating at such a height for so long.
The worker says he was paid 600 euros a month — about 50 euros each shift — around half the salary at the neighboring Greek-operated pier, with no extra money for working night shifts or weekends. There was no set schedule; he was kept on 24-hour call for nine months.
The Greek government seems unwilling or unable to protest because it desperately needs Chinese investments. Greece is vulnerable because of its deep economic crisis caused by the same banking interests that caused the debacle in the US.
When you read of the moves to 'bail out' Greece by the European Union, keep in mind that what is being advocated is a bail out of the banks, since the bail out money will pass through the Greek government to the banks to make up for their losses.
The bankers rule the world and are driving a race to the bottom for the world's workers.