Dissatisfaction with working conditions, including long working hours, low wages and poor health and safety practices, has led to an increase in labour unrest in China since 2010, according to Maplecroft’s Labour Standards Report for China.
The report notes that the combination of these factors poses risks of operational disruptions to companies, particularly in the worst-affected manufacturing and electronics sectors.
Although the government has adopted new legislative and regulatory measures, such as raising minimum wages, to ease the unrest - strikes remain prevalent and are likely to continue to increase throughout 2014.
Marginalised internal migrant workers are most at risk of labour exploitation due to weak legal protections and discriminatory treatment. Evidence suggests that they are less likely to have formal employment contracts and are therefore more likely to be subjected to low wages and long working hours.
"Companies with commercial activities in China consequently face substantial risks of complicity in violations of fundamental labour rights, both through their own operations and those of their supply chain partners," says Maplecroft.