Created:  2009-07-07 08:43    

Released: 2011-08-30 01:44    

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY    

Origin: Consulate Guangzhou


                

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DE RUEHGZ #0409/01 1880843

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 070843Z JUL 09

FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0751

INFO RUEHGZ/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0201

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0112

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0188

RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0184


UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000409

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/CM

STATE PASS USTR CHINA OFFICE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ELAB ETRD ECON PGOV CH

SUBJECT: Two New Labor NGOs - Different Missions, Different

Government Reaction

 

REF: GUANGZHOU 192

 

(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified.  Please protect

accordingly. Not for release outside U.S. government channels. Not

for internet publication.

 

¶1. (SBU) Summary and comment: How much room do labor

non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have to operate in the Pearl

River Delta (PRD)?  The different experiences of two new

organizations show that it depends on the group's mission.  The

Green Grass Workers Service Department is trying to expose poor

working conditions in local factories.  It has not been able to

register as an NGO and has faced government interference.  The

Zhuhai Center for Social Work Facilitators, on the other hand, has

less confrontational goals -- helping migrant workers adjust to

living and working far from home.  The Zhuhai Center is fully

registered and enjoys a cooperative relationship with the

government-controlled labor union.  Green Grass's experience sheds

some light on the limits of the Chinese government's tolerance of

labor NGO activities.  However, the fact that it is allowed to

operate at all is perhaps a step forward.  End summary and comment.

 

Different Missions

------------------

 

¶2. (SBU) Two new labor NGOs have recently opened shop in the PRD

with very different missions.  The Green Grass Workers Service

Department was founded in April 2008 as the Shenzhen office of New

York-based China Labor Watch.  It focuses on reporting on working

conditions in PRD factories and on the treatment workers.  According

to Yang Min, one of Green Grass's employees, it often cooperates

with international brand name companies like Adidas and Nike to

perform undercover investigations of their suppliers.  Yang Min told

us that after its reports are released, factory owners often take

corrective measures to improve working conditions.

 

¶3. (SBU) Meanwhile, across the Pearl River in Zhuhai, the Zhuhai

Center for Social Work Facilitators opened its doors in December

¶2008.  The Zhuhai Center is a branch of The Culture and

Communication Center for Facilitators, a Beijing-based NGO.  Its

mission is to help local migrant workers improve their quality of

life and adjust to the challenges of living far away from home.

According to the center's director, Yang Daimao, the events it has

organized include a photo exhibit showing the life and work of

migrant laborers, a play about the challenges they face and a debate

on how to improve their living and working conditions.  The center

also offers language training in English and Cantonese and some

counseling services.

 

Different Treatment

-------------------

 

¶4. (SBU) Government reaction to the two new NGOs has been

dramatically different.  Green Grass's Yang Min told us that the

authorities have kept a close eye on her organization since it began

operations in Shenzhen, pointing out that foreign-funded NGOs are

usually subject to closer scrutiny.  She said that the government

had intervened twice in projects that Green Grass was working on,

asking the organization to suspend operations in one case.  Green

Grass has been unsuccessful in its attempt to register with the

Civil Affairs Bureau as an NGO and instead had to register as a

private enterprise with the Administration of Industry and

Commerce.

 

¶5. (SBU) The Zhuhai Center, in contrast, has a very cooperative

relationship with the government.  It has successfully registered as

an NGO with the Zhuhai Civil Affairs Bureau.  It works closely with

the government-controlled labor union at Flextronics Corporation,

the largest local employer.  A representative of the Flextronics

union participated in econoff's visit to the center's office.

Flextronics funds most of the center's operation, and most of the

center's clients are Flextronics employees.

 

Different Challenges

--------------------

 

¶6. (SBU) Green Grass's Yang Min identified child labor in the PRD as

a top concern of the organization.  She noted that child labor in

most local factories is voluntary and the underage employees use

false or borrowed identification documents to get their jobs.  She

said parents often support the efforts of their children to work in

the factories.  In addition, Yang Min expressed concern that the

 

global economic downturn was increasing the government's tendency

rule in favor of factory owners in labor disputes with migrant

workers.

 

¶7. (SBU) At the Zhuhai Center, Yang Daimao said the organization's

main concern was attracting more volunteers to work at the center.

The center has a staff of five paid employees and about 40

volunteers.  She said that only about half of the volunteers fall in

to a group of "core volunteers" who are active in most of the

center's programs.  Yang Daimao explained that attracting more

active participation from workers would be essential to achieving

the center's goals for improving the lives of migrant laborers.

 

JACOBSEN