Labour Movement

This is a group of very strong women – notes from the Guangzhou University Town sanitation workers’ strike.

 China Labour Net Editorial Note: On August 21st more than 200 striking sanitation workers from Guangzhou University Town gathered at GOGO Xintiandi protesting against the termination of their labour contracts by their employer, a property services company, and its refusal to pay compensation according to the workers’ years of service. Before August 28th the workers had already been on strike for seven days, every day still sitting out in the square.  More than 80% of the workers involved in the strike are women. Although the workers continue to be suppressed, the atmosphere is one of solidarity.  Meanwhile, the strike has also received attention from university students, who have supported the workers. These are the notes of a Guangzhou citizen reporter who visited the strikers and made on site interviews to vividly record the story of the women sanitation workers. The report (in Chinese) is available to download from the link below.

Foxconn worker writes open letter about union elections to the Foxconn union

 A letter which claims to be from a Foxconn worker at Foxconn’s Longhua plant addressed to the Foxconn trade union has recently appeared online. The worker, who says that they are an ordinary level employee and union member, writes that they were surprised to recently have seen a banner at the plant announcing a union election, due to the announcement being so sudden. Having been a Foxconn employee for many years, the worker says that they know that many employees only know very little about the union and are unaware of the importance of democratic elections. In such a situation, with the sudden announcement and the majority of workers unaware, they think that the election can only represent a mere formality. A number of recommendations to the union are then made. These include the extensive publicity of union elections, the standardization of the election process and elimination of illegal elections and irregularities, democratic elections in which each member can take part without external interference (a number of necessary procedures are outlined), that the union actively perform its duties, and finally that the union will take the voices of the workers seriously. The full letter is available in Chinese.

China drops charges against labour activist Wu Guijun

 June 9, 2014 12:52 pm By Tom Mitchell in Beijing Financial Times Chinese prosecutors have dropped charges against a labour activist in southern Guangdong province, in a case widely seen as a litmus test of official tolerance for the country’s increasingly robust worker movement. Wu Guijun, 41, went on trial in Shenzhen this year for allegedly leading a worker protest that disrupted public order – a charge used to jail a number of legal rights activists over the past 12 months. On Monday, however, prosecutors dropped the charges. Mr Wu had been released on bail late last month after spending more than a year in a detention centre, where he shared a small room with as many as 50 other prisoners. He could have spent another four years behind bars had he been convicted.

1200 Shenzhen Workers Call for the Full Implementation of Social Security Fund

  1200 workers from 101 factories signed an appeal calling for the full implementation of the social security fund. The appeal points out that what had happened to the Dongguan Yue Yuen workers’pension fund last April, also happened in Shenzhen. It also expresses disappointment over Shenzhen’s January 2013  law on employers’paying back to the pension fund what they owed previously. According to the appeal this law carries no substance at all, making the law just “a sheet of paper”. Towards the end of the appeal it says that “we want to take back our rights to social security - these rights are earned through our sweet and blood and sacrificing our youth.” Read the appeal (in Chinese).

Yue Yuen Workers Won’t Cry

 Translated by China Labour Net April 28, 2014 This morning, workers from the Laosan plant (plant no. 3), who were the last batch of workers to hold the line, finally resumed work after the combined and heavy pressure from the government and the management. The ten days wei-quan (defend one’s rights) action by Yue Yuen workers has drawn to a close, at least temporarily. At noon, heavy rain fell from the sky, as if the heaven also cried for us in sadness. At 9 am, a friend at the Laosan plant texted me saying that they are now resuming work and along with this there was also a long list of crying and hugging emojis. Today, each and every Yue Yuen worker felt humiliated in his or her heart. In 21st century socialist China, at the frontline of the Reform and Open policy, ie, Dongguan, Guangdong province, there are now scenarios where the police and their dogs are mobilized and violent assaults are used to force workers back to work. This is the shame of Dongguan, and more importantly, the shame of history!

Thousands protest at Dongguan's largest shoe factory

Want China Times 2014-04-08 Several thousand workers from Dongguan's largest shoe factory, Yue Yuen, took to the streets on Sunday to protest a disagreement over benefits and labor contracts, reports Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po. The protesters are accusing the shoemaker of deceiving staff by giving the same social security benefits to workers who have been with the company for more than 10 years as to casual staff and of signing void labor contracts. The factory has reportedly promised to give staff an official response by April 14 and claims that production has not been affected. Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings, headquartered in Hong Kong and established by its Taiwanese parent company Pou Chen Group is the largest branded athletic and casual footwear manufacturer in the world. Its Dongguan factory was established in 1988 and employs more than 60,000 workers who make shoes for major brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok.

Chinese Walmart Workers Write to AFL-CIO for Help

Editorial Note: In early March, 2014, workers at Walmart Changde began to fight for compensation when the management decided to close the shop. The workplace union there picketed the shop before they were forcefully removed. After this some workers at another Walmart branch wrote an appeal letter to the AFL-CIO for help For further details of the workers' struggle see the CLB report. Please Help Us Fight against Walmart’s Illegal and Brutal Closings Dear AFL-CIO leadership,   I am a Walmart worker in China and writing to ask for help for hundreds of Chinese Walmart workers facing Walmart’s illegal and brutal closings! During Walmart’s expansion in China, establishing more than 400 stores, it has also suddenly closed several stores to maximize its profits and plan to close about 20 stores in 2014.

Pepsi workers go on strike in several factories across China.

Earlier this month, workers at Pepsi plants in Changchun, Harbin, Xian, Langzhou, Chonqing and Xinjiang went on strike to protest against layoffs and pay and benefit cuts. This is not the first time that Pepsi workers in China have taken coordinated protest action. Pepsi workers previously held protest actions in several cities in late 2011, against a deal between PepsiCo and Tingyi Holding Corporation which would see Pepsi bottling operations in China transfer to the latter.  In giving their reasons for going on strike this month Pepsi workers in Chonqing said that, since the transfer to Tingyi, workers have already taken a pay cut. In addition, although Tingyi is reported to have made a profit after the acquisition, the company is still planning mass layoffs, in which despite around 50% of the workers having worked at the plant for 10 or 20 years their compensation payment will only be calculated from the date of the takeover by Tingyi.

Chinese IBM workers erupt in protests over layoffs, Lenovo deal

By RICK SMITH, WRALTechWire Research Triangle Park, N.C. — Thousands of IBM workers in China - some carrying banners describing IBM as a "Sweat Shop" and "We are not merchandise" and many wearing blue lab coats - launched protests Monday that continued Tuesday in reaction to layoffs and the sale of IBM's low-end server business to Lenovo. Unlike at the Research Triangle Park complex where layoffs spark little if any public protest, including layoffs that started last week, the IBM facility in Shenzhen City was blocked with hundreds of protesters gathered at the entrance.

Cramped courtroom hints at power of China’s labour movement

Financial Times February 24 2014, Tom Mitchell in Beijing On the afternoon of February 17, Wu Guijun’s supporters erupted in anger when told his trial’s opening session had been cancelled. They harangued the judge, who had informed Mr Wu’s lawyers that the prosecutor was unavailable. Dozens more marched to the court’s administrative office to demand that Mr Wu, accused of leading a labour protest that allegedly “disturbed public order”, be allowed his day in court. Mr Wu’s family members and co-workers, backed by dozens of Chinese labour activists, had been waiting more than three hours for the trial to start at the Bao’an District People’s Court in Shenzhen, the manufacturing centre bordering Hong Kong. Few of them had ever heard William Gladstone’s famous maxim that “justice delayed is justice denied”, but instinctively they knew the truth of it.
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