Ellen Friedman:新的形勢代表我們要用新的方法

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工會人士評論中國勞工NGO被打壓事件

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《Ms. Ellen Friedman, 資深工會組織者》

就這次對廣州勞工維權者的打壓,不少人都在問「為甚麼」或者是「為何是現在」……其實我們早就知道答案:習近平政權不能容忍中華全國總工會(全總)體制外的獨立勞權活動。不少人注意到所謂的「海外影響」,尤其是「海外資金」的額外指控。但根本就沒有證據證明獨立的勞權活動會因為沒有海外資金支持而被容許存在。現在的政策目的很清楚:起碼在國家的意識中,給予獨立勞工非政府組織(即不與全總合作的組織)的空間和時間已經不復存在。

在胡錦濤統治下,當時政府不但對勞工非政府組織有更大的包容,而且全總亦被積極地推動去扮演更有效的角色。全總曾被推動去組織「財富」500大外資企業、將農民工帶入工會、嘗試實踐集體談判,以至與外國工會進行教育交流。前廣東省委書記汪洋曾就2010年汽車業的罷工浪潮發表著名的評論。他指類似的勞資紛爭在工業化的過程中是正常的,而且那些罷工是經濟性罷工,不是政治性罷工。工人利用這個空間測試抗爭和向資方與國家爭取權益的界限。勞工非政府組織除了教育工人和為個別工人維權外,亦開始進行組織工作。如果我們對自己坦白的話,過去三年的訊息絕不含糊:政府在嘗試重新建立一如毛澤東時代的政治權威。然而,在後毛時代的經濟體系中,工人面對的問題並不是政府能夠解決的。政府也不會解決這些問題。無論是看全總的歷史還是其架構,它都無力解決工人的問題……但政府對這並不在乎。因為政府只要求全總去壟斷代表工人的空間,即使他們壟斷了這空間卻不會有任何作為。勞工非政府組織之所以被打壓,就是因為他們企圖在代表工人這個層面上有所作為,而且促進工人自己代表自己。對於要重建威權的政府來說,這是不能容忍的。

對積極的勞權爭取者和那些對抗剝削的勞工而言,現在的工作與早前沒有分別。我們要想辦法去激發、積極參與和進行集體行動。我們要變得強大。沒錯,新的形勢代表我們要用新的方法。但我們只能欣然面對,不應懼怕。

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Unionist’s comment on the suppression of labor NGOs in China

《Ms. Ellen Friedman, experienced labor activist in the US》

Many people are asking “why” or “why now” about this sweep of Guangzhou labor activists… but in fact we already know the answer: Independent labor activity, outside of the institutional control of the ACFTU is intolerable to the Xi Jinping administration. The additional charge of “foreign influence” – and especially foreign funding – is given a lot of prominence… but there is no evidence that independent labor activity would be tolerated even absent foreign funding. The policy line is clear: The space and time for independent labor NGOs (those not collaborating with the ACFTU) is over, at least in the mind of the state.

Under the Hu Jintao administration, there was not only greater tolerance for labor NGOs but also an energetic push to the ACFTU to perform more effectively. The ACFTU was prodded to organize Fortune 500 foreign firms, to bring migrant workers into the trade union, to experiment with collective bargaining, and to have educational exchanges with foreign unions. Wang Yang, former Guangdong Party Secretary, famously commented on the auto strike wave in 2010 that such conflict between labor and capital was normal during industrialization, and that strikes were economic – not political – in character. Workers used this space and found ways to test the boundaries of resistance and demand-making on capital and the state. Labor NGOs moved beyond education and individual rights protection towards organizing.
If we are frank with ourselves, the signs have been unmistakable for about three years: The state is attempting to reassert the kind of political hegemony it enjoyed during the Mao era. However, workers in the post-Mao economy have problems which the state cannot, and will not, fix. The ACFTU is both historically impaired and structurally inhibited from solving workers’ problems… but that is alright; what the state requires is only that the ACFTU occupy all space for worker representation… and fill that space with emptiness. The reason labor NGOs must be suppressed is that they attempt to fill this space with meaning, purpose, and self-representation for workers. This is an intolerable challenge to the hegemonic project.

The task for labor activists, and for workers resisting exploitation, is no different than it was during earlier periods. We still must find ways to inspire, to engage, to take collective action, to become powerful… only now we must face the facts that new ways are needed. It’s not a task to be afraid of, but to welcome.