Hong Kong-based Chinese dissident Han Dongfang, has said that independent labour unions were helping raise aspirations in China, and this would have its benefits in Australia.
Han, who was expelled from China 20 years ago after forming the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation - the country’s first non-state-controlled union - lives in Hong Kong and edits the China Labour Bulletin, which he founded.
Speaking at the Australian Workers Union conference yesterday, told an audience that Chinese were becoming less tolerant of exploitation by employers, want better conditions, and their demands for better living standards were on the rise.
This was ending China’s place as “the world’s factory.”
"Everything is getting more expensive and production based on sweatshops no longer can be sustained," he told the audience, in comments reported by AAP.
He said that labour unions were a threat to the rule of Chinese Communist party.
''Every day, somewhere in the country workers in factories and construction sites, street cleaners and bus drivers, teachers and shop workers withdraw their labour,'' he said.
''It is one thing to suppress student and dissident-led calls for democracy, as the party did in the 1980s; it is quite another thing entirely to suppress the calls for a decent living from hundreds of millions of workers three decades later in the year 2013," Fairfax Media reports him as saying.
Demands for better wages would also benefit Australians, according to Han.
"It is quite popular in China," he said of Australian-made goods.
Increasing wealth, “Wouldn't be a one way street, it will mean AWU members and their jobs can be secured.