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Monday, May 23, 2016

Rise Of The Temp Workers Part 10 - China

Chinese Part-Time Workers Soar As Economy Deteriorates

By Tyler Durden
Zero Hedge
May 22, 2016

Not only is China facing a significant risk of an economic hard landing, but, as we have noted on many occasions, the country is also facing what perhaps may be an even greater risk: SOCIAL UNREST.

As the economy CONTINUES TO WEAKEN, and LAYOFFS CONTINUE TO MOUNT, China has started to relax its own labor rules in order to try and keep everyone happy… for now; as China is experiencing a surge in part-time workers. In order to control costs, but still meet whatever demand comes, Reuters REPORTS factories are now hiring by the day instead of keeping workers around in a full employment contract. In turn, workers are happy with the arrangement of course, because at least it provides the opportunity to make a day’s wage, knowing that if they are hired for that day it means there is work, and they’ll get paid for their efforts.

Squeezed by high costs and unpredictable demand, some factories in southern China’s manufacturing heartland are turning to a new strategy to survive: hiring workers by the day.

It is a far cry from Beijing’s vision of a slick, hi-tech manufacturing future of computers and chip makers: on a warm morning in the southern town of Shiling, dozens of workers gather on a city street to haggle for a day of work making bags for $20 to $30.

Factory owners in this leatherworking town, and in those nearby, say just-in-time labor allows them to stay competitive, even if day wages can be higher, individually, than full-time salaries.

Workers, operating in a legal grey area, say they tolerate the conditions because many fear factories offering permanent jobs could fail to pay if clients dry up and the manager runs off.

“We never used to hire temporary workers, because labor costs were not very high. Our workers were on staff,” said Huang Biliang, who runs a button factory in the southern city of Dongguan. “But recently we’ve started to hire more temporary labor.”

In a stainless steel factory in the nearby town of Jiangmen, David Liang, manager of Chiefy, agrees: “Every additional (permanent) worker I hire is an additional risk.”

The cost of social unrest is well known to the government, and if allowing slightly different rules of employment means that the masses will be happy, then its something officials are willing to tolerate. Although, at the end of the day, officials may have no choice but to soften their stance. As He Fan, chief economist of Caixin Insight Group points out, the manufacturing sector is shrinking, and casual workers may already be on track to outnumber permanent workers as it is.

Though China has tightened rules, officials have also expressed concerns about them. In March, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei publicly criticized the labor contract law, which requires companies to provide employees a written contract.

The same month, Guangdong province - which has raised its minimum wage at regular intervals in recent years - said it would scrap scheduled rises to the local minimum wage in 2016, and keep it at 2015 levels through 2018.

“The total employment of the manufacturing sector is shrinking,” said He Fan, chief economist of Caixin Insight Group, but not the informal portion of that. He sees the shift to more casual labor as also partly led by younger workers.

“If my assumption is correct, then the casual workers may outgrow the permanent workers.”

Needing to maintain employment, local authorities appear to tolerate the arrangement.

For now, workers like 39 year old Wang Binge, are happy with the part-time arrangement while looking for more stable work.

In Shiling, in China’s bag capital, men and women gather in the early morning looking for a days work.

Factory managers in vans and on scooters each hold a sample of the bag they produce; workers crowd around them, examining the sample and discussing the per-piece wage.

Among the workers is 39 year-old Wang Binge, who until three years ago ran her own small handbag workshop nearby. The workshop was once profitable enough to allow her to buy a Toyota and build a house in her hometown in southern Hunan province.

But orders dried up, and now Wang looks for jobs that pay at least 180 yuan ($27) for about a 12 hour day.

So many factory owners have fled without paying their staff, Wang and other workers said, that they feel safer being paid cash by the day, while hoping for more stable work.

At the end of the day, if workers are even tentatively happy, it improves the chances that the government won’t have to deal with further unrest. For China officials, that’s all that matters at the moment.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/23/16 •
Section Bad Moon Rising
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Rise Of The Temp Workers Part 9 - The Gig Economy

image: The GIG Economy

Need proof that the “gig economy” is painful? Just ask people who work for Uber or Lyft
This backwards system directly transfers more money and power from workaday families to moneyed elites

By Jim Hightower
May 12, 2016
Salon

Pouty, whiney, and spoiled-bratism is not nice coming from a 4-year-old but i’s grotesque when it comes from billion-dollar corporate elites like Uber and Lyft.

The two internet-based ride-hiring brats call themselves “ridesharing” companies, but that’s a deceit, for they don’t share anything - their business model relies on folks needing a ride to hire a driver through the corporations’ apps. With the bulk of the fare going to out-of-town corporate hedge funders.

The two outfits have swaggered into CITIES ALL ACROSS OUR COUNTRY, insisting that they’re innovative, tech-driven geniuses. As such, they consider themselves above the fusty old laws that other transportation companies, like taxis, follow. So Uber and Lyft have made it a corporate policy to throw hissy fits when cities - from Los Angeles to ATLANTA, HOUSTON to Portland have dared even to propose that they obey rules to protect customers and drivers.

The latest tantrum from the California giants happened in AUSTIN, when the city council there adopted a few modest, perfectly reasonable rules, despite the screams of PR flacks from both outfits. The petulant duo then used fibs and high-pressure tactics to get enough signatures on petitions to force a special election to overturn the council’s action. Naturally, being brats, they gave the city an ultimatum “Vote our way or we will leave town” and assumed that Austins tech-savvy voters would flock to do whatever the popular ride-sharing service wanted.

But they picked the wrong city. First, they ran a campaign of blatant lies, as though Austinites wouldn’t question them. Then, they shoved a sickening level of corporate cash into their campaign, apparently thinking that the sheer tonnage of ads would win the day for them. However, the slicks from California turned out to be uber-goobers. Despite spending $9 million (more than the combined spending of all city council candidates in the past decade), they went down, 56-to-44 percent.

Since they didn’t win their campaign, Uber and Lyft have now left town in a huff leaving their 10,000 Austin workers/drivers behind to fend for themselves. Since their workers are considered contract employees, there will be no severance package or unemployment benefits for them.

This is part of the new ”GIG ECONOMY” the latest corporate buzz-phrase from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. CEOs are hailing a Brave New Workplace in which we lucky worker bees no longer have to be suck in traditional jobs with traditional hours, traditional middle-class pay scales, traditional benefits, traditional job security, and all those other fusty “traditionals” of the old workplace, In fact, in the gig economy, you’re not even bothered with having a workplace. Rather, you’ll be “liberated” to work in a series of short-term jobs in many places, always being on-call through a mobile app on your smart phone or through a temp agency. How exciting is that?

Well, they use “exciting” in the sense of distressing and nerve-wracking. The gig economy means “you’re on your own” you’re not an employee, but an “ndependent contractor,” with no rights and no union. You might have lots of calls to work this week, but there’ll be many weeks with no calls. Don’t get sick, injured or wreck your car, for no health care or workers’ comp are provided. A pension? Your retirement plan is called “adios chump.”

This ”ALTERNATIVE WORKER ARRANGEMENT” is not a futuristic concept, it’s already here and spreading quickly. And it’s not just ride-hiring gigs either. Some 16 percent of U.S. workers are now in this on-call, temporary, part-time, low-pay, you’re-on-your-own economy, up from only 10 percent a decade ago. Corporate chieftains (backed by the economists and politicians they purchase) are creating what they call a workforce of non-employees for one reason: Greed. It directly transfers more money and power from workaday families into the coffers of moneyed elites.

Their gig economy is aptly named, for “gigs” are crude four-hook fishing devices that are dragged by commercial fleets through schools of fish to impale them, haul them in, and cash in on the pain. And if you dont think the gig economy is painful, why don’t you ask the 10,000 Uber and Lyft workers in Austin how they feel about it?

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/16/16 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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