At least 1,000 workers at the IBM factory in Shenzden went on strike last week after it became apparent that IBM is planning on selling their factory to Chinese PC maker Lenovo. Over the past eight days, workers have paraded through the factory grounds yelling “IBM is a sweatshop, IBM give me respect, IBM give my youth back!” Workers are seeking compensation from IBM for selling the factory. This is common in the United States and other western countries, where workers often ask to receive some sort of compensation when a company sales the rights of a factory to another company. The workers of IBM Shenzden factory are asking for IBM to pay their average monthly salary multiplied by double their number of years of service, plus one month’s salary.
This strike is just one in a growing trend of strikes and protests. The China Labor Bulletin stated that there has been at least 1,171 strikes and protests from June 2011 to December 2013. There are two many factors that are fueling this trend; labor shortages and social media. Labor shortages have caused wages and benefits to increase as employers try to retain their workers. Workers are starting to understand the power that they have over their employers, coupled with the ability to communication over social media and online chat groups they are better organized. This continued strikes mark a turning point for the Chinese economy, which until now has thrived off of cheap labor, due to labor surplus. If employers are forced to continue increasing wages and benefits for workers, it will make it more expensive to manufacture products and companies may look to move their factories to other countries to increase profit.