Ho Chi Minh

Workers’ Movement In The Far East

First Published: La Vie Ouvriere, Januray 25, 1924
Source: Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh Vol. 1
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House
Transcription/Markup: Christian Liebl
Online Version: Ho Chi Minh Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2003

Osaka is one of the big Japanese industrial centres remaining undamaged in the last earthquake. The misfortune of other Japanese turned out to be the good fortune of the manufacturers of this town who are at present enjoying an unprecedented prosperity. Despite the rapid increase in the cost of living which weighs heavily on the workers’ meagre budget, wages have remained the same as before the catastrophe. Placed in this impossible situation and in face of the employers' refusal to bring about the required improvements the workers in the cotton mills have been on strike since the end of November.

The strike demands are:

1 — A 20 per cent increase in wages;

2 — A reduction in the price of food supplied by the mill;

3 — Improvement of the dining-halls and bath-rooms;

4 — Payment of 50 per cent of wages to workers absent through sickness;

5 — Reinstatement of workers recently dismissed.

Recently, the workers of the Oriental Hemp and Nagosi companies obtained an increase in wages through a strike. Those of the Senchu Co. obtained the same advantage as soon as the decision to strike was communicated to the managing staff. Other firms resisted, alleging that, in spite of the accumulation of orders, they had not been making big profits because of the increased price of raw materials; and that, on the other hand, having insufficient raw cotton, they are in no way worried by the strike.

In fact, they are seized with panic. They have had the town occupied by the local police, reinforced by others from neighbouring towns. They have tried to weaken the movement by having the Secretary General of the Labour Federation and a great number of militants and demonstrators arrested. The result of the bosses’ attempts is nil because the strike remains as energetically led as it was on the first day, and the workers are resolved to go on struggling till the end.

Electricians and mechanics have gone on strike in solidarity. The workers in State factories have promised to use every means to support their comrades in struggle. Thus supported, the strikers are full of enthusiasm and have no doubt of victory.

In the struggle between capital and labour in the Far East, odd things occur which are impossible to understand in Western countries, but which are done most seriously out there. For instance, to hinder its workers from joining their comrades on strike, the Kishiwada Company simply had the exits bolted. The Knawada electrical engineering works, unable to come to an agreement with its personnel on the question of wages, decided on a lock-out. But before dismissing the workers, it paid them four whole days' wages and two days' pay as compensation!

Anti-militarist strike

With a view to breaking the organization that the workers have just set up, the management of the Shuikaoshun mines (China) sent for General Chao's soldiers. Immediately on arrival, the latter began to occupy the workers' club. To protest against this action of the soldiery, three thousand miners spontaneously went on strike. They surrounded the soldiers and tried to disarm them. The soldiers shot at them, wounding many strikers. The thing went further than had been desired by the management, who then tried to preach law and order. But the miners answered that they would resume their work only when compensation had been granted to the victims, and their demands — made up of nine clauses — had been accepted.