BEIJING: China may face major turmoil if issues related to unpaid wages and jobs are not resolved immediately. If it remains unresolved, the consequences could be high for the ruling Communist Party which is making all efforts to maintain stability amid high youth unemployment, a flagging economy and an explosion of Covid across the country, reported The Geneva Daily.
The abrupt end of the zero-covid policy in China has not come with a happy news for millions of Chinese workers who helped the government enforce strict lockdown measures.
While private companies which hired them have laid them off without paying any compensation, their monthly salaries due from last November have also not been paid, forcing them to resort to agitation in several cities in the country, reported The Geneva Daily.
In China’s Southwestern city of Chongqing, as per the New York Times, hundreds of angry pandemic-control workers locked in a pay dispute with a company which hired them to enforce the government’s zero covid measures clashed with police demanding wages and jobs.
The same Chinese city also witnessed a grotesque spectacle of the fight between law enforcement agency sleuths and hundreds of Covid test kit manufacturing company workers over a pay dispute.
Not paid salaries for the past several months, these workers smashed machines, and hurled objects at police personnel, while kicking and tossing boxes of rapid antigen tests onto the ground, spilling them on the surface, reported The Geneva Daily.
It is feared that more and more Chinese cities would witness salaries and job-related agitations and violence in the coming days as the immense cost of the world’s strictest virus controls has drained the coffers of many local governments. They are not able to pay dues to the manpower companies who placed their men and equipment for the implementation of the zero Covid policy.
Meanwhile, owing to widespread lockdowns, the unprecedented downturn in the property market and severe heatwaves, China saw its economy expand by just 3 per cent in 2022 — the worst performance in nearly half a century.
The country’s gross domestic product grew 2.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, China’s National Bureau of Statistics in its report. Industrial production slowed to 1.3 per cent in December, while retail sales in the entire 2022 dropped 0.2 per cent.
Moreover, exports of goods plunged 9.9 per cent on account of weakening global demand for Chinese goods, as well as disruption to logistics networks and labour shortages due to Covid-induced lockdowns, reported The Geneva Daily reported.
Amidst this, big companies including Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, and Volvo have decided to shift their operation outside China partly due to possible conflict over Taiwan and partly due to the slowing down of the country’s economy and low consumption.
This has cast a bad spell on China’s overall economic health. Analysts from Capital Economics, a London-based financial institution, have predicted China’s economy to contract by 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2023.
That means the labour market will continue to face heat in China where about 20 million people aged 16 to 24 are out of work in the cities and towns, according to CNN calculations based on official statistics. (ANI)