Chinese factories are turning away orders because of a shortage of labor. The shortage is about more than demographics - it's about a change in the workforce itself. And yet many factory managers and buyers are struggling to cope. What do Chinese workers want, and what would bring them back to the factories?
Even with Chinese wages up 20% this year, the labor shortage is already forcing some Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta factories to turn away business. Younger workers are quitting jobs twice as often as their older colleagues, exacerbating the shortfall. Factory managers are struggling to understand: what do China’s migrant workers want?
The answer to that question has never been more important to the global supply chain – not to mention the Chinese economy. Multinational companies that buy from China, as well as the country’s millions of manufacturers, need migrant workers to stay longer in one place in order to improve productivity as wages rise.
How should buyers, CSR managers, and factory owners cope with the increasing demands of workers and the global supply chain? What do China’s workers want? Does China have an emerging labor movement? Was this summer the start of a wave of unrest?
Alexandra Harney, the author of The China Price, the only book to predict the wave of unrest at Chinese factories, will answer these questions and more during this talk. Ms. Harney, now a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong’s Centre of Asian Studies, maintains a constant dialogue with workers, factory managers, buyers and labor advocates, giving her a unique perspective on China’s export sector and migrant labor market.
Ms. Alexandra Harney is the author of The China Price: The True Cost of Chinese Competitive Advantage (Penguin Press, 2008) and a respected voice on labor and economic issues in China and Japan. The China Price, which drew on two years of undercover reporting, examines the human and environmental cost of China’s success as the world’s factory through the stories of ordinary Chinese. The book, published in six languages and optioned for adaptation to film and television, was named a best book of the year on globalization by Library Journal.
Alexandra spent seven years as a correspondent and editor at The Financial Times, and has also written for the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Forbes, Slate, the China Economic Quarterly and Foreign Policy. A fluent Japanese and Mandarin Chinese speaker, Alexandra is a regular commentator on the BBC, NPR and Japan’s Yomiuri TV.