Guangdong blazes path on collective bargaining Finally, some real good news for mainland workers. The Guangdong provincial government is debating the latest draft of its Regulations on the Democratic Management of Enterprises. If implemented, they could finally open the door to genuine worker participation in collective bargaining on the mainland. According to Chinese media reports, the rules will create a legally binding mechanism whereby workers can demand and negotiate pay increases. They state that if more than 20 per cent of the workforce at a factory asks for wage negotiations with management, the trade union at that enterprise must organise the democratic election of worker representatives to engage in the talks. If the company does not have a union, the nearest district union is obliged to organise the elections. China Labour Bulletin executive director Han Dongfang was encouraged by this progressive development. 'These regulations could turn out to be of great historical significance, both in terms of protecting workers' rights and in the transformation and smooth development of labour relations in China.' The Guangdong government first drafted the regulations in 2008, but the process was halted by the global economic crisis. Then after nearly a dozen suicides of young workers at Foxconn and a wave of strikes across the mainland earlier this year, the provincial legislature shoehorned the regulations into this year's packed legislative programme. The long march to improve mainland workers' rights has reached a significant milestone after two decades. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is still arguing over a few dollars on whether to set the minimum wage at HK$24 or HK$33 per hour. It's time to finally get off the fence and stand on the side of the workers. 'Both in terms of protecting workers' rights, and in raising domestic consumption and boosting sustainable economic development,' as Han said in the case of mainland workers. Of Nimbys and Nimtos We have been reminded that the Nimby (not in my backyard) mentality is not necessarily a bad thing. This paper's political columnist, Alice Wu, noted that some well-intentioned Nimbys are trying to stop a tycoon from destroying Hong Kong's beautiful backyard, Sai Kung, where a businessman is planning to turn a piece of land he bought near the Sai Wan beach into a private resort. Another case Hongkongers tried to defend last week was the sanctity of our 'collective cultural backyard' by stopping pseudo-models from promoting their raunchy photobooks at the annual book fair. Nimby issues are popping up everywhere, and although many of them smack of misplaced righteousness, we have good reason to believe that not all of them are ill-intentioned. But, there is another type of behaviour we need to watch out for - Nimto (not in my term of office) mentality, which embodies some of our officials' attitude in tackling problems. Officials take the heat We are so glad to see our legislators and government officials have finally stepped out of their air-conditioned chambers and offices to experience the suffocating summer heat professional drivers will have to bear once the idling engine bill is in force. A number of lawmakers and Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah were seen hopping on a minibus, a double-decker bus and a tour bus to feel what it is like on public transport without air-conditioning. In one of the vehicle compartments, a lawmaker recorded a temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius. We believe the law is well-intentioned - to improve our air quality - but it has to take local situations into account. Lai See has no doubt professional drivers will get even hotter under the collar because chauffeur-driven tycoons and officials may be able to 'exempt' themselves because driving in circles while waiting is not against the law. Late-show fodder Today's the big day for BP, which announces its second-quarter results. It's also likely to mark the announcement that chief executive Tony Hayward is being replaced by managing director Robert Dudley. The oil spill has done nothing to help fishing and tourism in the Gulf of Mexico, but it has fuelled late night comedy in the United States. Here are a couple of one-liners: 'Scientists say they have developed a car that can run on water. The only catch is, the water has to come from the Gulf of Mexico.' - Jay Leno. A gem from David Letterman. 'You folks been following the big British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? I'm telling you, British Petroleum has put more birds in oil than Colonel Sanders.'