The big story from China is, of course, the at least 156 deaths in Uighur riots in Xinjiang (see Google News items here
). Buried in most reports is the fact that this particular outbreak of rioting has its genesis in a clash between dominant Han Chinese and ethnic minority Uighur workers in a Hong Kong-owned Guangdong toy factory in late June (which was reported in the Hong Kong press; see here
, in Chinese only). CSR Asia will have a column on this (in Chinese) in the Hong Kong Daily
next week (the first in a regular CSR column we'll be doing for the paper). I'll do an English version for CSR Asia Weekly
this week, of which a short version is this: the brawl in late June (in which over 100 workers were injured (16 seriously) and two were killed) is not an isolated incident (although deaths obviously are rare). Tension in factories between workers from different areas is a major problem that few factories manage well. The toy factory riot in question was complicated by a recent influx of Uighur worker and the arrest for rape of Uighur workers, but missing from the factory was a basic component of industrial relations; i.e., a workable and effective grievance mechanism. In fact, this basic element of good workplace relations is missing from most factories in China (especially large ones where it is essential; and the Hong Kong toy factory in question is a very large one indeed and supplies to major brands). It's clear that a good grievance system is not going to solve Uighur grievances in Xinjiang, nor prevent all ethnic clashes, but if there is no mechanism at all for workers to air complaints (and have them acted upon), then this sort of thing is going to continue (as it has done for the last 20 years or more). CSR Asia works in China to develop these mechanisms (via factory training - our FIT5 program
, and in partnership with NGOs to provide hotline services for factory workers to contact trusted NGOs that can then relay messages to brands and retailers buying from the factory).