More workload without more pay Over 1,000 workers strike at Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery

On 15 December 2018, over 1,000 packaging workers from a plant of listed company Jiangsu Yanghe Group Co. Ltd. in Suqian City launched a strike, as the enterprise increased workers’ workload without paying them extra. The enterprise also refused to let workers rest and erode their basic welfare. 

Jiangsu Yanghe Group Co. Ltd. has been listed in Shenzhen Stock Exchange since 2009, with 30,000 employees. Reportedly, it used to be a state-owned enterprise and was transformed to be a share-holding company in 1999, by offering shares and dividends to workers. However, it forced workers to give up their shares and caused a collective action involving some thousand workers in 2006. Currently, it is one of the leading enterprises in Jiangsu Province, with sales expected to reach RMB 20 billion this year.

The packaging workers in the Suqian City, mainly women, started this strike. The new work assignment, unilaterally demanding workers to pack from 4,000 boxes to 8,000 boxes per shift, without offering any pay-rise to compensate them for the doubled workload. As the enterprise’s basic welfare and rest days were seriously inadequate, workers were upset enough to launch a strike.

On 15 December, workers gathered outside the factory to strike, the security guards and local police attempted to stop them from entering the office building but were in valid. The next day, while workers in Suqian City were still demanding to negotiate with the employer, strikes broke out in two other plants in Siyang City and Shuanggou City. As Jiangsu Yanghe Group Co. Ltd. is a significant taxpayer in Jiangsu Province, the local government sent over a large number of police and guards to the scenes and censored the news of strikes closely.

In the evening of 16 December, the enterprise put out an official statement, stating that it had organized working groups to negotiate with workers, the conflicts were resolved and its production would not be affected. However, some internet sources claimed that workers were still on strike in the morning of 17 December. 

It is not the first time for Jiangsu Yanghe Group Co. Ltd. to encounter a collective action. In 2006, it had a conflict with workers while asking them to give up their shares. Now by unilaterally demanding workers to increase workload, it shows it has not learned its lesson and failed to respect workers’ rights again. We urge the enterprise to address workers’ rightful demand, improve their labour conditions and resolve the labour conflict through negotiation.