Shawn Shieh: Remembering the Power of Labor During the Pandemic

Shawn Shieh shares his first blog post of 2020 dedicated to the situation of Chinese workers during the pandemic.

In my first blogpost of 2020, I’d like to use the occasion of International Workers Day to remember the power of labor in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by highlighting the situation of workers in China. In countries like the U.S. we are reminded of this power by reading reports of workers on the frontlines organizing for better personal protective equipment, payment of wages and hazard pay, paid leave, etc. In China, where this pandemic began and where much of our PPE is produced, news about worker grievances and protests rarely gets out thanks to heavy censorship, and the fierce repression of Chinese labor activists and organizations over the last few years. Thanks to reporting by organizations like China Europe Association for Civil Rights and China Labour Bulletin, we have some idea of how workers, and the organizations and individuals seeking to assist them, are responding during the pandemic.