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Hua Hin

Unpaid and angry, some Chinese workers ditch holidays to protest

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Unpaid and angry, some Chinese workers ditch holidays to protest | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

INSIGHT-Unpaid and angry, some Chinese workers ditch holidays to protest
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: China This year, laborer Fan Fu and 20 or so colleagues working on the Zixia Garden apartment complex in Hebei province have not joined China’s legion of migrant workers returning home to celebrate new year with their families.

Instead, they have camped in the offices of the property developer’s subcontractor, demanding almost a year’s unpaid wages and too angry and proud to go back to native towns and villages empty-handed.

With China’s economy growing at its slowest in 25 years, more workers face Fan’s predicament and labor unrest is on the rise, a concern for Beijing as it seeks to avoid social unrest even as financial pressures build.

“The developer has kept using the fact that they have no money as an excuse. As of now they haven’t paid us a single penny,” said Fan, who brought others from his home town in the western province of Sichuan to work on the apartments.

“We really don’t have any other options,” he told Reuters in the subcontractor’s offices, crowded with bedding and personal possessions.

The group had earlier petitioned local authorities for redress and staged protests outside government offices in Qian’an, a city in Hebei in China’s north.

When water and electricity were cut to the dorm where they lived, the subcontractor allowed them to move in temporarily.

Fan and about 530 other workers on the apartment project are owed paychecks of between 20,000 and 50,000 yuan ($3,000-$7,500). They said the government had offered each non-local laborer 2,000 yuan in cash if they left for the holidays.

The developer, Qianan City Xinyuan Real Estate, did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on the protests and the unpaid wages. The Qian’an government said they were looking into the issue but declined to give details.

While the housing sector is among the worst-hit in China’s economic slowdown, the pain is being felt by blue- and white-collar workers in other industries.

According to Geoffrey Crothall of the Hong Kong-based group China Labour Bulletin, which tracks worker issues, there was a spike in protests in the last quarter of 2015.

Its data show that in December and January, there were 774 labor strikes across China, from 529 in the previous two months, most of them over wage arrears.

FEARFUL

At a printing factory in the western city of Chongqing, a Reuters reporter was present when a local official visited last week to make sure the boss paid his workers before the Year of the Monkey begins.

The official declined to speak with Reuters, although the boss later said it was an attempt to prevent unrest.

“That’s (unrest) what the government is most fearful of,” said the factory owner, who did not want to be named.

Chongqing authorities gave no immediate response to faxed requests for comment.

China’s senior Communist Party leaders, including President Xi Jinping, have long championed workers’ rights, and are often photographed visiting factories.

The government is concerned that protests over issues like unpaid wages could spill over into broader dissatisfaction at its rule, as it has derived much legitimacy over the past decades from delivering a higher standard of living.

Before the holiday, Beijing issued a notice calling on local authorities to “seriously investigate all incidents of wage arrears, so that migrant workers would be paid in a timely manner and in full,” the state-run Workers Daily newspaper reported.

Over the past few months, however, authorities have arrested at least seven labor activists in Guangdong province in the largest crackdown on organized labor in China in recent years.

China’s state Xinhua news agency accused the men of running illegal non-governmental organizations that had been “severely disrupting social order”. China’s Foreign Ministry said the cases would be handled “in accordance with the law”.

BONUSES CUT, FACTORIES SHUT

As travel ramped up ahead of the holiday, beginning on Sunday, it was not only construction workers who prepared to celebrate with less money in their pockets.

An online survey by the job recruitment company Zhilian Zhaopin said two-thirds of more than 10,000 white-collar workers it surveyed were not expecting Lunar New Year bonuses.

In Dongguan, a city in the southern province of Guangdong known as a manufacturing hub, some factories sit idle behind locked, rusty gates, with advertisements pasted on their walls seeking new tenants.

Some of those still in business were withholding bonuses until after the Lunar New Year, workers, factory owners and recruiters interviewed by Reuters said.

Brothers Zhang Guantian, 23, and Zhang Guanzhou, 21, quit temporary, hourly paid jobs at two plants, one making earphones, the other computer cables, to go home for the holiday.

“It’s hard to find a permanent job now,” said the elder Zhang, while waiting for a bus with two large suitcases.

Still, he is hopeful of finding another job when he comes back to Dongguan in mid-February.

“My aim is to find a permanent job after Chinese New Year, something I like. But it will be difficult.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Scrap metal merchant arrested over stolen rail track pins causing train derailment

The Thaiger

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Scrap metal merchant arrested over stolen rail track pins causing train derailment | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Twitter@pr.railway 

A scrap metal shop owner has been arrested for stealing rail track ‘pins’ that were responsible for the derailment of a railway carriages heading south from Bangkok to Chumpon province yesterday. The derailment happened in the Phetchaburi province.

The incident happened yesterday (Monday) just after midday and took the rest of the day and evening to lift the carriage back onto the tracks, and inspect the railways lines and missing pins (that hold the railway tracks onto the timber sleepers).

Read the story HERE.

The State Railway of Thailand reports that train #255 from Thonburi to Lang Suan station in Chumphon province became derailed at 12.04pm after departing the Huay Sai Tai station in Cha-am.

They confirmed that six carriages had jumped off the rails. They believed that the theft of steel nails used to fix the tracks to the sleepers had been stolen. Railway teams and cranes went to the scene to lift the carriages back on the tracks and assess the damage.

The acting State Railway governor says inspectors found 168 rail fastening screws and 40 track base plates were missing, along with 340 wooden sleepers damaged over a distance of 350 metres.

Police and railway officials raided the Rungcharoen scrap metal shop in Cha-am district last night. They found 25 rail base plates and 66 rail track pins on the premises.

The owner, Supachai Padsri, was arrested for theft and receiving stolen items. He is denying the charges claiming that a person had deposited the items at his shop a few days ago.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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Hua Hin

Where are the CCTV cameras? Hua Hin locals

The Thaiger

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Where are the CCTV cameras? Hua Hin locals | The Thaiger

A motorcycle-bombs scare on Sunday has put the spotlight back on the planned CCTV cameras that were promised after a series of bombings in Hua Hin back in 2016.

Officials at the Hua Hin provincial hall Hua are now being pushed to speed up the planned installation of hundreds of public-area security cameras in the wake of the weekend’s bombs scare.

Provincial governor Panlop Singhaseni has advised municipal authorities in the resort town to complete procurement conditions for 400 high-definition CCTV cameras, as promised three years ago.

The 50 million baht purchase was proposed after Hua Hin was targeted by a series of bomb blasts in 2016 that killed one person and wounded 20 others, seven of them foreigners.

The plan stalled when the Provincial Electricity Authority refused to allow use of its poles for the cameras and cables, for fear they could disrupt the power supply.

The bomb scare on Sunday focussed on three parked motorcycles with southern licence plates parked near the train station and reignited concerns over the need for improved safety in the seaside town.

Hua Hin municipality currently has 150 surveillance cameras – 90 looked after by the Tourist Police and another 60 operated by the provincial offices.

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Bangkok

Potential for retirement properties in Thailand

Bill Barnett

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Potential for retirement properties in Thailand | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

While a number of property offerings in Phuket, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and more recently in Bangkok have promoted themselves as retirement-centric offerings, the jury is still out on the broad success of the sector.

Despite retirement communities and assisted living being mainstays in Western countries like the US, UK and Australia, these are for the most highly domestic offerings.

Some of the key market challenges are the absence of a secondary sales market, disconnect with national healthcare schemes, difficulties in financing offerings and the sheer distance from relatives or family units.  Additionally, intrinsic differences in nationalities of prospective end-users has created a somewhat confusing potential geographic source of business.

Thailand does have a widely promoted retirement visa program but it has not been linked to the real estate market. Malaysia’s ‘My Second Home’ initiative has been a leader in Asia and has effectively tapped these two issues.

Two developments that are being watched in the property world in the Kingdom, the first is Nye Estate’s Otium Living which is working closely with the UK retirement specialist group Audley Villages, with its initial offering coming to Phuket’s MontAzure in Kamala and plans to expand in Bangkok.

Second is MQDC’s The Forestias in Bangkok which is aimed at multi-generational living. A number of iconic groups are involved in this undertaking including the Foster + Partners, Six Senses and Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health on wellness. What’s unique about this project is the inclusion of older generational housing into a larger green, eco and family- oriented community.

At C9 Hotelworks we have advised on a number of retirement projects in Thailand, Philippines, Mainland China and Japan. One of the key issues for the sector has been developers who are looking to simply brand real estate and not do the hard yards on programming a working community.

One clear idea that is emerging, that we feel has strong broader potential is a shift from a property offering into shorter-term lease options, membership or rentals. This becomes a recurring cash flow play versus the typical blow and go real estate structure.

A strong indicator of the upside potential is Australia’s property group Lendlease’s estimated USD1.4 billion investment into Mainland China’s senior living marketplace. On offer are transferable long-term memberships with a value of approximately USD250,000. Wellness and hospitality offerings are key components of the end-product.

The reality of lower, more rationale pricing points with an understanding that senior living is transitory in nature and the long-term prospects will be a transfer into assisted-living or family care.

We continue to see real estate developers go blindly into creating offerings which do not recognise the need to build a secondary resale mechanism as well and trying to price offerings on legacy real estate models. For the most part these are going to be highly stressed financial models and not sustainable.

Senior and/or retirement living is a reality for a “greying Asia”, but for now, the lack of fundamental models and reality has yet to take hold. It will be interesting to see how Lendlease’s China outing goes, but they certainly look to be set on the right path ahead.

As for the prospects of the Kingdom, one astonishing data point on Thailand’s potential for senior living is that by 2030, according to the United Nations a quarter of the population will be over 60 years of age. Falling birth rates and an aging population have created a first world situation in the making. There is a growing long-term market, if someone can just create the right product.

If you’re looking for new or pre-loved homes and condos in Thailand click HERE.

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