Recent news has been full of accounts of dissatisfied workers in China. First, there was the string of suicides among workers at the massive Taiwan-owned Foxconn factory in southern China. Then there were the strikes against Japanese-owned Honda auto parts factories. Now it seems that worker unrest has spread north to another Taiwan-owned factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu province.
Not being much of an expert in labor issues, I have largely avoided comment on this issue while watching the labor experts analyze the minutiae of management-labor relations, rising wages and their potential impact on China's manufacturing base.
The one issue I have yet to see highlighted is the fact that, so far, all of these suicides, strikes, etc., have occurred at foreign-owned or controlled companies. China's state-owned enterprises have (thus far) remained unscathed by what looks like a trend of worker dissatisfaction.
Do SOEs treat their workers better than foreign companies? Do they pay their workers better? Or have the SOEs simply been lucky so far?