238.1 To struggle for workers' identity: The resistance of Jiashu workers

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 10:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Shaopeng SONG , Department of CCP History, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
A group of older women workers in the contemporary labors’ resistance movement are struggling for a “worker” identity.  Called “Jiashu Workers”(Jiashugong "), they range in age from 60 to 90 and all are grandmothers.  Previously, they worked as temporary workers, engaged in unskilled heavy labor, as “housewives” in the factories in which their husbands worked.  The label “Jiashu Workers” was first established in the late 1950s by the government; the initial aim was to solve financial difficulties of male workers and their families, with the wife’s work at the factories regarded as a kind of sideline employment.  However, some of the Jiashu Workers worked for decades in these factories.  When the market-oriented reforms began in the 1980s, these women were the first to leave the factories for “leave for rest”( Tuiyang), but this was not called “retirement,” because the government did not recognize them as workers and did not grant worker’s labor relations.  To the present time, some of these elderly women only receive a few hundred Yuan each month in subsidy payments from the factory, but cannot receive a pension or health insurance, which are the most urgent needs of the elderly.  Since the 1990s, they have been fighting for the status and identity of “workers.”  This research is based on interviews with Jiashu Workers in state-owned construction company in Beijing, to analyze their daily struggles and their organizing of collective action.