Labour News

 

June 6 marks the fifth anniversary of the labour movement hero Li Wangyang’s death.  Five years ago, the wronged death of Li instigated an uproar both domestically and internationally, inspiring 25,000 Hong Kong people took to the streets to demand for his justice.  Nowadays, the Chinese Government is still trying to distort the truth in insisting that Li committed suicide, while Li’s sister, Li Wangling, brother in law Zhao Baozhu, friends Zhu Chengzi and Yin Zhenan are still under surveillance.

 

 

Inspired by the Polish Solidarity Union Movement, Li started to organize workers and advocated democratic awareness in the community during the early Eighties.  However, his wishes to see Chinese workers to enjoy the right to freedom of association has yet to be succeeded.  In recent years, the Chinese Government has escalated her efforts in suppressing independent labour movement by interfering the operations of independent labour NOGs, as well as arresting and detaining labour activists.

 

Last night, more than 200 Hong Kong people gathered at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier in a candlelight vigil commemorating Li Wangyang organized by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.  It proved that Hong Kong people have not forgotten Li Wangyang and the atrocities inflicted on him by the regime.  Although his friends Zhao Baozhu, Zhu Chengzi, and Yin Zhenan were not able to attend the event, they recorded videos to express their condolences to their deceased friend, and express their gratitude for Hong Kong people’s support.  At the end of the event, the attendees offered flowers to commemorate Li Wangyang and support to his family and friends.  May we all wish that the justice will be brought upon the Li Wangwang’s death one day.

Right to communicate violated: Labour Activist has been detained and isolated for 16 months

19

Apr 2017

 

19th April, 2017

Chinese labour activist Meng Han was sentenced to a prison term of 21 months by Panyu District Court of Guangzhou City on 3 November 2016,  for "gathering crowds to disrupt public order" as he helped organize workers to defend their rights. He was then sent to serve his sentence in Shaoguan Prison of Guangdong Province and is expected to be released in September 2017. Together with the detention prior the sentence, Meng has been detained for over 16 months. Since his detention on 3 December 2015, his family has attempted to visit him over a dozen times but in vain. No matter it was the No.1 Detention Centre of Guangzhou or Shaoguan Prison, the authorities denied his family’s rights to see him. In late March 2017, Meng’s parents visited Shaoguan Prison again and was told that Meng had been going through education and therefore could not be visited. Frustrated, his family made various complaints at the Bureau of Public Security and never received any feedback. Now, they start to feel extremely worried about Meng’s conditions.

 

In fact, Meng’s freedom has been deprived by the Chinese Government through unjust means. By violating his rights to communicate with the outside world, the Chinese authority has further violated Meng’s fundamental human rights and even its own legislation. Article 48 of China’s Prison Law states, “A prisoner may, in accordance with the relevant regulations, meet with his relatives and guardians during the service of his sentence.”; UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners also guarantees prisoners’ rights to communicate with the outside world,  Rule 58 states, “Prisoners shall be allowed, under necessary supervision, to communicate with their family and friends at regular intervals:(a) By corresponding in writing and using, where available, telecommunication, electronic, digitals and other means; and (b) By receiving visits.”  During his 16-month detention, Meng was not allowed to see his family and his trial last year was conducted secretly, without his parents’ presence. Meng’s father tried to remit money to Meng through China Post (for him to spend in the prison) but the remittances were returned. Without Meng’s news for such a long time and being constantly worried about his son’s situation, Meng’s father became ill and was admitted to a hospital for over two weeks.  At the time of writing, he remains hospitalized.

 

To silent the victims of its arbitrary detentions and violent crackdown against labour activists, Chinese Government turns a blind eye to its own legislation, as well as the international minimum standard. The HKCTU and labour organizations in Hong Kong strongly condemn the Chinese Government’s violation of Meng Han’s rights to communicate with his family. We urge all relevant authorities to do their utmost to safeguard Meng’s fundamental human rights and ensure his well-being in the prison. We further emphasize that Meng was working for a labour organization and worked to defend workers’ rights. His work should not be criminalized. We call on the Chinese Government to immediately withdraw all charges against Meng and unconditionally release Meng.

 

Co-Signed by:

 

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

Asia Monitor Resource Centre

Worker Empowerment

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM)

Globalization Monitor

Labour Education and Service Network

Labour Action China

The Chinese Working Women's Network

International Labour Organization urge the Chinese Government to respect workers’ right to organise

09

Mar 2017

 

International Labour Organization:

Calling China’s Trade Union Law contrary to freedom of association, urging China to ensure activists can continue their work and conclude investigations with open court judgements

In December 2015, the Guangdong Provincial Government launched a mass crackdown against labour activists, detaining over 25 volunteers and employees of labour NGOs. Some of them were released after interrogation but six of them, Meng Han, Zhu Xiaomei, Tang Huanxing (aka Tang Jian), Zeng Feiyang, Peng Jiayong and Deng Xiaoming have been charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order”, for their involvement and assistance to workers at the labour actions in Lide Shoe Factory and Cuiheng Bag Factory. Another detainee, He Xiaobo was accused of “embezzlement”. In recent year, it has become a phenomenon that Chinese enterprises do not pay for workers’ social security and other labour protection measures and workers take collective actions to safeguard their rights. However, it is also equally common that entrepreneurs colluded with local governments and police repression is found in many cases. Under this background, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) wrote to International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), calling it to file a formal complaint at the ILO’s Committee of Freedom of Association (CFA) and demand the Chinese Government to stop its repression of freedom of association. On 9 November 2016, ILO’s CFA released an interim report and urged the Chinese Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that freedom of association is protected and labour activists should be allowed to continue to provide advisory services to workers without hindrance. It also demands the Chinese Government to conclude the pending investigations and provide court judgements of labour activists once they are complete.

 

Trade Union Law contrary to freedom of association

Despite the Chinese Government stated that “freedom of association is guaranteed through the explicit provisions of its Constitution”, CFA points out that in previous complaints against the Chinese Government, it has stated that China’s Trade Union Law is contrary to freedom of association, such as: “Trade union organizations at various levels shall be established according to the principle of democratic centralism… A trade union organization at a higher level shall exercise leadership over a trade union organization at a lower level.” (Article 9), “…The All-China Federation of Trade Unions shall be established as the unified national organization.” (Article 10), “The establishment of basic-level trade union organizations, local trade union federations, and national or local industrial trade union organizations shall be submitted to the trade union organization at the next higher level for approval…” (Article 11). In the past, CFA also urged the Chinese Government to take up its responsibility in revising these provisions. CFA further recalls that it previously stressed the importance of the development of free and independent organizations and negotiation with all those involved in social dialogue. (Paragraph 233)

 

Detentions of labour activists: a serious interference with civil liberties in general and with trade union rights in particular

Zeng Feiyang, Zhu Xiaomei, Meng Han, Deng Xiaoming, Peng Jiayong and Tang Jian were detained for their involvement in Lide Factory’s collective labour action between December 2014 and April 2015. They were accused of organizing three strikes, blockade of the factory entrance and threatening other workers to strike. Thus, the authority charged them with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” due to the violations of provisions of Sections 290, 271, 272 and 210 of the Criminal Law, i.e. causing damages to the public order and the interests of other citizens. However, CFA sees that the six activists have been arrested, detained and charged for being involved in Lide Factory’s labour dispute and considers that the detention was connected with their activities in defence of the interests of workers. CFA recalls that it has always recognized the right to strike by workers and their organizations as a legitimate means of defending their interests. It further recalls that taking part in picketing and firmly but peacefully inciting other workers to keep away from their workplace cannot be considered unlawful. As the complainant’s indication that collective actions staged at the Lide Factory were peaceful, the detention constitutes a serious interference with civil liberties in general and with trade union rights in particular. CFA expresses its concern over the heavy sentences, albeit suspended, imposed on Mr Zeng (3 years), Ms Zhu (18 months) and Mr Tang (18 months) and requests the Chinese Government to provide a copy of court judgement. As it is likely that the labour activists would not be able to provide any further service to workers during the pendency of their suspended sentences or risk imprisonment, CFA requests the Chinese Government to ensure that the three activists can continue providing advisory services to workers without hindrance. The complainant pointed out that families of Meng Han and Zeng Feiyang were under a lot of pressure and were attacked by unknown thugs. Threats and harassment on Mr Zeng’s family escalated when in April 2016, his mother filed a lawsuit against the Xinhua News Agency for an article accusing Mr Zeng of embezzlement. His parents were threatened by unknown persons, claiming to be from the national security, to withdraw the lawsuit. Likewise, Mr Meng’s parents were harassed repeatedly. In May 2016, power and water supply of their apartment was cut, unknown persons came to their apartment and smashed the door with an axe. CFA requests the Chinese Government to provide its observations thereon. (Paragraphs 200, 201, 235, 236 and 241)

 

Chinese Government condones collusion between officials and entrepreneurs, using police power and violence to suppress workers’ lawful actions

CFA is concerned about ITUC’s allegation of collusion between local governments and employers, which allows employers to use violence and police to attack workers and labour activists. The complainant reports that three days after the negotiation between workers and Lide Shoe Factory,  the office of Panyu Workers’ Centre, which Zeng Feiyang ran, was attacked. It is believed that it is a retaliation for its involvement with the labour action. After then, the employer continued to delay the workers’ severance payment for the factory relocation.

 

The complainant alleges that in the case of the same dispute, several workers were beaten and detained, including Meng Han,  when the police intervened in the meeting of about 100 labour activists in April 2015, who were discussing their tactics and electing their union representatives. Workers then requested the employer to repay their missing housing provident funds and social insurance, the government promised that it would facilitate the dialogue between workers and employer and issued a joint- statement with the employer, claiming it would address workers’ demands. Workers’ collective action also forced the public security bureau to release Meng Han.

 

Furthermore, ITUC’s allegation of police intervention in a labour dispute that occurred at the Japanese owned Cuiheng Bag Factory in March and April 2015 is noted by CFA. The employer refused workers’ demand to negotiate and called the police. Over 200 riot police arrived and hauled away 26 workers, four of whom were detained for more than ten days. Many other workers were injured. When Peng Jiayong, a volunteer from Haige Labour Services Centre visited workers in the hospital, he was beaten so severely that he was hospitalized with a lumbar disc protrusion. The next day, when four staff members from Haige Labour Services Centre (including Chen Huihai) went to report the attack at the police station, an unknown person attacked them with bricks. There were several police officers at the scene but they made no attempt to pursue the attacker. CFA regrets that no information has been provided by the Government on these alleged incidents, expects an independent inquiry will be conducted by the Chinese Government into these serious allegations and requests the Chinese Government to provide detailed information on its outcome. (Paragraphs 209, 212, 238, 240)

 

CFA’s conclusions and recommendations

In conclusion, CFA regrets that the Chinese Government has not provided detailed information in respect of the disputes described in the complaint. CFA stresses that the only durable solution to industrial conflicts is through full respect for the right of workers to establish organizations of their own choosing, promotion of collective bargaining and creating of appropriate mechanisms where industrial disputes can be resolved through dialogue. In the light of its foregoing interim conclusions, CFA invites the ILO Governing Body to approve the following recommendations:

 

1. CFA requests the Chinese Government to provide the court judgments in cases of Mr Zeng Feiyang, Ms Zhu Xiaomei and Mr Tang Huanxing and to ensure that the three activists can continue providing advisory services to workers without hindrance.

 

2. CFA expects that the pending investigation of Mr Deng Xiaoming and Mr Peng Jiayong will be concluded without further delay and that it will also shed light on the alleged attack on Mr Zeng on 20 December 2014 and the beating and detention of several workers of the Lide Shoes Factory and of Mr Meng in April 2015. CFA requests the Chinese Government to keep it informed in this respect and to provide the court judgments in cases of Mr Meng Han, Mr Deng Xiaoming and Mr Peng Jiayong, once they have been handed down.

 

3. CFA requests the Chinese Government to indicate whether Mr Chen Huihai has been charged, as other labour advisers, with “gathering a crowed to disturb social order”, as claimed by the complainant, and if so, to provide detailed information regarding his case.

 

4. CFA expects that an independent inquiry will be conducted by the Chinese Government into the allegation of the police intervention in the labour dispute at the Cuiheng Bag Factory in March and April 2015 which led to the detention of four factory workers and injuries of many, including Mr Peng Jiayong, volunteer of Haige Labour Services Centre, Mr Chen and Zhu Xinhua, a workers’ representative from another factory. It requests the Chinese Government to provide detailed information on its outcome.

 

5. CFA requests the Chinese Government to provide its observations on the allegations of pressure suffered by the relatives of Mr Zeng and Mr Meng.

(Paragraphs 242, 243)

 

HKCTU welcomes the judgements made by CFA and urges the Chinese Government to positively respond to CFA’s recommendations, namely stop obstructing labour activists in safeguarding labour rights, respect workers’ freedom of association and right to collective bargaining. Just right before the report was released, Meng Han was sentenced in jail for 21 months for involving in the strikes above. This shows that the Chinese Communist Party has no intention to protect the worker’s freedom of association and their right to strike in order to maintain the stability of their ruling role. We urge the Chinese government release Meng Han immediately, reform the Trade Union Law and respect the workers’ rights to organise and collective bargaining. 

Hong Kong Enterprises Neglect Social Responsibilities and Condone Brutal Repression on Workers

26

Jan 2017

In October 2016, the HKCTU released a “Monitoring Report on Collective Labour Disputes of Hong Kong Enterprises in China” (hereafter: Monitoring Report), covering large-scale labour disputes in Hong Kong enterprises and their labour rights violations between May 2015 and April 2016. The report exposed that labour actions had taken place in many subsidiaries of members of business associations in Hong Kong, as these enterprises violated China’s labour legislations. They failed in paying workers’ social insurance as required by law, relocated plants without informing workers, forced workers into “voluntary resignation” and etc. Their ultimate goal is to undercut or minimize the employee's entitlements' to severance payments. As Guangdong Province is still undergoing economic transformation, China suffers from economic downturn and foreign investment dries up, labour actions are expected to occur more frequently. Thus, the HKCTU urges the business associations to monitor the operation of their members, to ensure that they respect labour legislations, stop repressing striking workers and observe fundamental labour rights.

In recent years, Guangdong Provincial Government has launched economic restructuring policy that aims to attract high-end/high-value industries to replace labour intensive manufacturers. The rapid development of the coastal region has led labour costs to rise and therefore, many factories in Guangdong Province have started to relocate to inner provinces or other countries in South-East Asia, for lower production costs.  However, many employers attempt to undercut workers’ wages, social insurance payments and severance payments by hiding the relocation/closure plans from workers. The Monitoring Report recorded a 30% annual growth of large-scale labour actions and among the 32 cases, almost 60% (19 cases) were caused by unpaid or missing severance compensation. Over 20% of them involved subsidiaries of Hong Kong-listed companies. In various cases, Hong Kong enterprises violated multiple legislations, e.g. in 25% of cases, the enterprises failed to pay both severance payments and wages. In short, Hong Kong enterprises often ruthlessly violate China’s labour legislations.

 

According to Item 3 of Article 40 of Labour Contract Law, “an employing unit may revoke the labour contract, if it notifies in writing the worker of its intention 30 days in advance or after paying him an extra one month salary, when the objective conditions taken as the basis for conclusion of the contract have greatly changed, so that the original labour contract cannot be performed and, after consultation between the employing unit and the worker, no agreement is reached on modification of the contents of the labour contract.” Yet, Article 46 and Article 47 state that the employer should pay financial compensation to an employee on the basis of the number of years a person works in a unit, the rate being one month’s salary for the work of one full year. Thus, an employer is obligated to inform employees about the decision of relocation and pay the severance payments to employees who disagree with the changes in the labour contracts.

 

Royale Furniture Holdings Limited (HKG: 1198) set a vivid example of corporate misconduct. During the National Day holidays in 2015, Signature Enterprise Company Limited (Guangzhou), a subsidiary of Royale Furniture Holdings Limited, moved machineries to another production site, about two hours drive from its Guangzhou plant, without informing its workers. Workers returned from their long holidays and found the factory gate had been locked and over 100 men were blocking their entrance. These men were all uniformly dressed in black T-shirts. Three workers were injured when a conflict broke out between workers and these men. On 16 October, the enterprise posted a “Notice of Return to Work”, dated on 12 October. It ordered workers to take a coach organized by the enterprise on 19 October, to travel to work in the new plant. Due to family reasons, some workers could not travel so far to work in such a short notice, a strike broke out. Workers refused to be relocated and demand severance payments. Yet the employer accused workers of “voluntary resignation” of “failing to attend work” and offered to pay 20% of the severance payments they were entitled to. Such a practice is a blunt violation of labour legislation in China.

 

The Monitoring Report also pointed out that some Hong Kong-owned enterprises violated the three fundamental labour rights, deploying violence to repress striking workers, violating workers’ rights to strike and collective bargaining. For instance, strikes broken out in Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Factory, a subsidiary of Lever Style Inc., a member of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, for missing pension insurance, housing provident funds, unfair dismissal and detention of workers’ representative Wu Weihua in December 2014 and June 2015. Workers reported that they were assaulted by police and threatened by local authorities repeatedly and were forced to sign “voluntary resignation agreements”. With the authority’s help, Artigas could get away without paying workers’ entitled severance payments. In the end, Artigas repaid only two years of pension insurance and four years of housing provident funds (in instalments over 6 years), a so-called relief fund calculated at a rate one third lower than Shenzhen City’s legal minimum wages, on the basis of the years of services. Compared with the legally entitled severance fund, i.e. on the basis of the number of years a person works in a unit, the rate being one month’s salary for the work of one full year, the relief fund is far lower. Deploying police to assault workers and dismissing workers’ representative, clearly violates workers’ rights to strike and collective bargaining. Yet, Lever Style Inc., as its parent company, has not paid any effort to protect workers in Artigas.

 

Another example is violation of labour legislations is found in Johnson Electrics (Guangdong) Limited, wholly owned by Hong Kong listed company Johnson Electrics (HKG: 0179), a member of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries. The plant failed to provide appropriate protective measures or training to workers who work with benzene, a carcinogn. When workers then contracted leukaemia and applied for identification of occupational diseases at the Hospital for Occupational Disease Prevention and Treatment, Johnson Electrics delayed the procedure in providing related information for an official diagnosis, which put their cases in limbo. Furthermore, it kept lobbying workers not to report their diseases to the hospital and wanted to settle the cases privately. Workers refused this offer and when they finally received the official diagnosis of occupational leukaemia from the hospital, Johnson Electrics still refused to pay compensation. Some workers had to take loans to pay for their medical expenses. In July 2016, some victims came to Hong Kong and protested at Johnson Electrics’ Annual General Meeting. They demanded the parent company to bear its responsibilities and pay compensation as required by law. Yet, until now, Johnson Electrics paid nothing.

All these cases illustrated that the four major business associations failed to ensure their members to abide China’s labour legislations and respect fundamental labour rights. In fact, these cases are simply the tip of an iceberg. It is questionable if the business associations have paid any efforts to monitor its members and thus.  Thus, the HKCTU and other labour NGOs took the opportunity to protest against the four business associations on January 26 at their joint luncheon and urged the four major business associations to:

 

  • run an annual investigation to check if its members obey the local labour legislations and publish the results;
  • disqualify members which violate labour legislations repeatedly and disclose such records;
  • urge members to disclose their labour practice in their annual report, to allow public to monitor the enterprises’ implementation of corporate social responsibility;
  • demand members to respect the three fundamental labour rights and stop brutally repressing workers’ strikes.
Coca-Cola China Refranchising Deal Sells Out Workers Rights

02

Dec 2016

 

In mid-November, the Coca-Cola Company announced to refranchise their bottling operations in China to COFCO Corporation and Swire Beverage Holdings Limited.  For fear of their employment stabilities and conditions being endangered by the new ownership, workers from the Coca-Cola bottling plants in Jilin, Chongqing, and Chengdu demanded to be laid off and compensated in accordance to the statutory severance payments.  The workers also demanded that employment conditions and seniorities under the new ownership should remain unchanged.  However, their demands were left unheard by the company and hence, the workers went on strike on November 21.  On the same night, police arrived at the Coca-Cola Plant in Chongqing to quash the strike.  A number of workers were injured in the mayhem and seven workers were arrested as a result, including a pregnant worker.  According to various sources, the strike is still ongoing in Chengdu and first round of negotiation has already taken place on December 1, despite no progress was able to materialize from the meeting.

 

 

In a number of previous cases of mergers and acquisitions, workers’ rights were often sacrificed as a result.  New ownerships would often apply various measures to force out workers from previous ownerships without recognizing their seniorities and replace them with workers under far inferior employment terms.  For instance, soon after COFCO acquired the ownership of Le-Conte Chocolate in March this year, they managed to close down most production plants and instigated a massive lay-off.  For fear of following the footsteps of the Le-Conte workers, the Coca-Cola workers organized themselves in collective actions to demand the Coca-Cola Company to buy out their seniorities before transferring to new ownerships.

 

According to the Human Rights Policy published by Coca-Cola, "The Company is committed to maintaining a workplace that is free from violence, harassment, intimidation and other unsafe or disruptive conditions due to internal and external threats."[1] However, the violent treatment of the workers on the night of November 21 was a blatant violation of such proclamation.  Moreover, the Policy also stated that, “Where employees are represented by a legally recognized union, we are committed to establishing a constructive dialogue with their freely chosen representatives. The Company is committed to bargaining in good faith with such representatives.”  Thus, the HKCTU would like to strongly advise the Coca-Cola Company to adhere to the policy of their own decree and demand an immediate stop to all suppressions on the strike and initiate dialogue with the workers in good faith.

 

 

In solidarity with the striking Coca-Cola workers in China, the HKCTU staged a protest, joined by other representatives from labour organizations in Hong Kong, against the Coca-Cola Company at their Hong Kong head office.  The Director of Public Affairs, Communication, and Sustainability of Coca-Cola China Limited, Ms. Florence Yu, received our petition letter and promised to pass on our demands to the management in China.  The HKCTU will continue to closely monitor the situation and press the Coca-Cola Company to resolve the dispute in accordance with the international labour standards.

 

Labour Activist Meng Han Unjustly Sentenced to 21 months in Prison

03

Nov 2016

 

Among other Chinese labour activists who were detained in late 2015, Meng Han was the last to be tried.  He was sentenced to 21 months in prison on 3 November 2016 in the Panyu District Court, Guangzhou. As he has been detained since 3 December 2015, he is expected to serve 10 more months in prison and be released on 2 September 2017.  A tough guy from Hubei Province, Meng has been jailed twice as a labour activist. In 2013, he was detained for nine months for participating a collective labour action at his workplace. Now, he is serving sentence again for being an organizer in a labour organization. 

 

During the past 11 months of detention, he faced harsh torture. He was once interrogated for 13 days consecutively and only allowed to sleep for some two hours per day. The authority did everything to force him to pledge guilty but his belief was not to be undermined easily. He insisted that being an organizer of a labour organization, it is within his legitimate rights to assist workers to safeguard their rights and help them to solve labour disputes. During his first detention in 2013, he wrote, “I could be poor, lonely, or even be killed, but I cannot live without dignity.” This belief helped him survive the psychological torture from the authority. His family has also been continuously harassed, under police surveillance and forced to relocate from their residence. Yet, Meng refused to confess, as he was determined that he did nothing wrong.

 

 

Meng has always been a worker. In his early years, he worked at the Yangtze River Administration Bureau of Yichang City. After he was retrenched, he started to work as a security guard at No.1 Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2010. In 2013, he participated in a collective labour action with other security guards in the hospital and was elected as the “chief representative” in the negotiation with the management. However, he was then dismissed and sentenced to nine-month imprisonment. At his defence speech in court, he insisted, “I was honoured to be elected as a workers’ representative and their chief negotiator. From that moment on, I knew that my responsibility is to closely work with the workers and face the challenges together.”

 

His experience made him realize that Chinese workers often found themselves entirely helpless and unorganized when their rights were exploited. Thus, after his release, he joined the Panyu Migrant Workers Services Centre to continue his fight for workers’ rights on the front line. During the labour disputes in Lide Shoe Factory in 2014 and 2015, he promoted workers’ bargaining capacity by assisting them to elect their representatives, provide union education and help raise strike fund. In the end, the workers were successful in their pursue of the repayment of high temperature subsidies, missing social insurance premiums, housing provident fund and severance pay due to the production plan relocation. Yet, the authority considered Meng’s good deeds as criminal offences and charged him with "gathering crowds to disrupt public order", as an attempt to stigmatize and criminalize the workers’ peaceful and rational stuggle.

 

In order to cover up the unlawfulness of this arbitrary detention, the Chinese Government pulled all her tricks to persuade Meng to plead guilty. When Meng refused to cooperate, they handed him a severe sentence as retaliation and a warning to other workers and activists. With Meng being sentenced for upholding labour rights once again, righteous labour activists are now facing unprecedented challenges in gaining a foothold in China.

Detained Guangdong Labour Activists Sentenced

27

Sep 2016

Three Guangdong labour activists - Zeng Feiyang, Zhu Xiaomei, and Tang Huanxing, who were arrested by Chinese police on 3 December 2015 - stood trial on charges of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” on September 26, 2016 in the Panyu District Court in Guangzhou.  Meng Han, who was arrested with them, remains detained in Guangzhou Detention Centre No. 1. Local prosecutors sent his case back a second time to the police for further investigation, and a hearing for him has yet to be set.   Zeng Feiyang was sentenced to 3 years and suspended for 4 years; while Zhu Xiaomei and Tang Huanxing were sentenced to 1.5 and suspended for 2 years. 

 

 

The Hong Kong Confederation would like to stress that the sentencing of the labour activists has set a very bad precedent on the independent labour movement in China as the rights to organize and freedom of association should be observed, while labour activists should be free from the risk of criminal prosecution when exercising these rights.  The prosecutions of the labour activists is not only a violation of principles of Freedom of Association, but also a political suppression on the independent labour movement in China.

 

 

On the morning of the 26th, more than 30 representatives from the HKCTU and other labour organizations staged a protest at the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government to support the labour activists on trial.  The HKCTU reiterate that the Chinese Government should stop all political suppressions on labour activists and respect workers’ rights to strike and freedom of association.  Meanwhile, we also demand the release of all detained labour activists, including Meng Han, and revoke all their criminal charges.

Shame on Fast Retailing’s Union Busting in Cambodian

27

Sep 2016

At the morning of 26 Sept, 2016, members from Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Globalization Monitor and SACOM (Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, together with other Hong Kong labour groups and a labour activist from Argentina went to UNIQLO's Lee Theatre Flagship Store at Causeway Bay in Hong Kong against Fast Retailing's union busting on Cambodian workers at Zhong Yin. We explained the Cambodian case to the consumers and shouted slogans inside the UNIQLO store to blame for Fast Retailing's union busting behaviour and request for the reinstatement of all the fired Cambodian workers and pay for their wages now. UNIQLO management at the store did not respond to our action. However, several managers and staff took photos of us and noted down what slogans we shouted! One even counted the number of participants.

 

     

 

We therefore strongly urge Fast Retailing to:

 

  • Inform the Zhong Yin management and the its parent company, Beijing Joywin Fashion Textile Co., Ltd. management that you support the AC Award and its interpretation of Cambodian labor law and that the dismissed workers should immediately be reinstated with back-pay for the time they were forced out of work.

 

  • Make it explicit to Zhong Yin management that Fast Retailing will participate in any negotiations to resolve the conflict consistent with its duty to take corrective action under its Code of Conduct.

 

  • Inform the parent company that further orders to the other factories depend on a swift resolution of the unlawful violations by Zhong Yin management of the workers' right to unionize.

 

  • Increasing Fast Retailing leverage by cooperating with other brands, e.g. H&M and Lindex, sourcing from both Zhong Yin as well as from a number of suppliers belonging to the parent company, Beijing Joywin.
Benzene-Poisoned Chinese Workers Speak About Their Fight With Leukemia

20

Jul 2016

 

 

Johnson Electric is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of motion subsystems and components for automotive and industrial applications. As of now, the company has an annual production capacity of over one billion motors and subsystems.  But Johnson Electric has been neglecting its duty to provide safe working environment for its employees.  Three employees or former employees of Huaseng Motor (Guangdong) Limited in Shenzhen, a subsidiary manufacturer of Johnson Electric, contracted leukemia due to prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals and lack of adequate protection equipment provided by the employer in workplace.

 

One of such hazardous chemicals is Benzene, which can be found in paint, industrial glue, cleaning fluids, thinners, ink, and other equipment seen in factories. The chemical is known to be a cause for a number of diseases including leukemia, leukopenia, anemia, asthma, and many others.  However, the company had neither provided safety equipment nor cautionary training for workers, a number of them were diagnosed with leukemia as a result.

 

Xie Fengping, a mother of two daughters, has been working for Johnson Electric since late 2008. Her main duties were to handle inks and thinners to print labels on products. In her workplace, she had been exposed to benzene, and in September of 2013, she was diagnosed with acute leukemia that had been caused by the chemical.

 

Zeng Shumei is another worker who found herself ill after working for the company. She has been giving her efforts for Johnson Electric since August of 2009, and throughout her job, she had been exposed to paints, thinners, industrial alcohol, and others that are known to contain chemicals. She was diagnosed with acute leukemia as well in 2013.

 

Zou Xiuhua, who has been working for Johnson Electric since early 2013, was diagnosed with acute leukemia in June 2014. Because Johnson Electric delayed the process of investigating the cause of the illness, it is not confirmed whether exposure to benzene really brought leukemia.

 

Regardless of their prognosis, Johnson Electric refused to admit their contraction is occupational related.  Thus, the workers’ claims for statutory medical expenses and other compensations were rejected by the company.  Moreover, the company repeatedly obstructed or deferred the examination process carried by the Occupational Health Clinic.

 

 

The three workers were in Hong Kong on July 14 to meet the media to tell their stories of how benzene poisoning has affected them and their families.  They went to the company’s Annual General Meeting after the press conference and demanded the CEO of the company, Dr. Patrick Wang, to address the precarious Occupational Health and Safety conditions. However, the workers’ protest was left unheard as Dr. Wong did not receive the workers on the occasion.  Regardless, the workers continue to demand Johnson Electric to:

 

  1. Assume occupational disease responsibilities for the contraction of leukemia of the three workers;
  2. Immediate compensation in wages, social security, and medical expenses owned to the three workers who contracted leukemia;
  3. Immediate negotiation with the three workers who contracted leukemia regarding compensation package;
  4. Provide adequate occupational, health, and safety trainings to all employees;
  5. Provide adequate occupational, health, and safety protective equipment to all employees;
  6. Stop the use of benzene and other health hazardous chemicals;
  7. Assume occupational disease responsibilities for all workers who contracted benzene related occupational disease before the company terminated the use of benzene in 2016.
No Regrets Even if Beheaded

06

Jun 2016

 

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the labor movement hero Li Wangyang’s death. Mourning with great sadness, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (The Alliance) marched to Liaison Office, demanding a thorough investigation of the cause of his death and punishment for perpetrators. We will continue to fight until Li Wangyang reclaims justice.

 

The following is a statement issued by the Alliance:

 

June 6 of 2016, two days following the 27th anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre, is the 4th anniversary of brave man Li Wangyang’s suspicious death.

 

Since the 1970s, Li Wang Yang had been promoting democracy among workers in his community. For showing support for the 1989-Democractic Movement and establishing independent worker’s organization, he was imprisoned for 22 years. During his imprisonment, Li was beaten, confined in a so-called “coffin-cell” and tortured so much that he was permanently disabled. However, Li Wangyang did not succumb to the slaughterer regime, but endlessly fought for democracy and justice.

 

After his release from prison, Li famously said, “If China adopts democracy and implements a multi-party political system, I would have no regrets even if I am beheaded.” Two days after his speech was broadcasted, he was found dead and authorities claimed that it was a suicide. Hong Kong people remain angry and demand for a through investigation that would reveal the real cause of Li Wang Yang’s death.

 

We must remember Li Wangyang’s perseverance and his call for our conscience. In the past, The Alliance and a number of organizations from the civil society in Hong Kong launched numerous actions to demand justice for Li. These include protests at the Liaison Office, a 25,000-people strong march, ‘The First Seven-Day Memorial”, a petition that was co-signed by 100,000 people, a protest on the arrival of Hu Jintao to Hong Kong and a complaint to the United Nations against the Chinese Government.

 

The Chinese government continues to distort the truth by claiming that Li Wangyang had committed suicide. Wangyang’s younger sister Wangling and her husband Zhao Baozhu, who had been taking care of him since his release, and his lifetime friend, Zhou Chengzhi, insisted the government must be prosecuted and should be ashamed for her actions.

 

Today is the fourth anniversary of Li Wangyang’s suspicious death. We, as members of the civil society, protest at the Liaison Office to mourn for a brave man’s death, and reiterate our demands:

 

-Allow an independent body to re-investigate the cause of Li Wang Yang’s death
-Punish those who were responsible for Li Wang Yang’s death
-Claim justice for those who have been sacrificed

 

Condolences for Wangyang!  Demand for Truth Until the End!

 

Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China

 

6th of June, 2016

 

 

Postcards Sent to Support Detained Labour Activists

09

May 2016

 

In support of the Global Postcard Campaign in demanding the release of the two remaining detained Chinese labour activists. Zeng Feiyang and Meng Han, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Globalization Monitor, and other Labour Organizations have collected more than 1300 signed postcards in Hong Kong in the past weeks.  On May 9, 2016, some twenty representatives from the above organizations gathered at the Central Post Office of Hong Kong and sent out the collected postcards as action of solidarity.  All postcards were mailed to the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Centre where both detainees are retained.

Meanwhile, trade unionists and labour activists from Switzerland, France, Germany, the United States, Great Britain, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia also demonstrated their support by sending postcards to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General of their residing countries.  The messages sent out by the workers of the world are clear: immediate release and drop the charges on all labour activists and stop political suppression on all Labour NGOs in China.

Moreover, as families and relatives of the detainees are constantly subjected to harassments from government officials (most recently, the apartment of Meng Han’s father was cut out of power and water supply by the authorities), the demonstrators also demanded the Chinese Government to cease all harassments imposed upon relatives and families members of the detainees.

What can worker Wenxia do when Disney has been silent for its supplier Mizutani’s escape?

23

Apr 2016

Wenxia comes from Changde, Hunan. She is now 43 years old. She entered the Mizutani factory, supplier of Tokyo Disney, twice. In total she worked there for 12 years. Her husband worked even longer. He started working there at 1998, the second year after the establishment of Mizutani factory. When the factory closed, he had been working there for 18 years.

 

33% salary deducted!

 

In March 1999 when Wenxia entered Mizutani factory for the first time, she only got ¥11 per day. In contrast to the regulation by law, she didn’t get double paid at weekends. She only has one or two rest days per month. Everyday she worked overtime for at least 4 hours. Sometimes she had to work till 2 or 3am of the next day. In such a harsh working condition, she earned ¥500-600, and ¥750 at maximum.

 

Let’s compare with the regulation by law. In 1999, the minimum wage level of outskirt of Shenzhen is ¥330/month,so the daily salary should be at least ¥330÷21.75=¥15.17 /day。If Wenxia worked 28 days per month, 12 hours per day, with 22 days as weekdays and 6 days as weekend, how much salary was illegally taken away by Mizutani?

 

 

Daily Salary

Basic Salary

Weekday OT

Weekday OT

Total

Actual

¥11

¥11×22

=¥242

(11÷8)×1.5×4×22=¥181.5

¥11×6+

(11÷8)×1.5×4×6

=¥115.5

¥539

Legal

¥15.17

¥330

15.17÷8×1.5×4×22=¥250.31

15.17÷8×2×6×10=227.55

¥807.86

 

 

 

 

Wage Difference

¥268.86

 

It means that Wenxia had ¥268.86/month deducted by Mizutani. It is equivalent to 33% of her actual salary!

 

No pension at all!

 

Wenxia and her husband worked for Mizutani for 12 and 18 years respectively. But the company did not apply for Pension Insurance for both of them, which was violating the law. Wenxia said that the factory only started applying Pension Insurance at 2008. Such application was also restricted by management level.

 

In 2005, Wenxia quitted the job to give birth to baby. She returned to at 2008. At that time, the management asked whether she want to apply for Pension Insurance. Considering that she may not work there for a long time to take care of kids and mom, she did not apply for it. After that the management did not ask her again. But the company applied the Insurance on work-related injuries, medical care, unemployment and pregnancy.

 

No Pregnancy Insurance, Having only basic income during pregnancy leave

 

In 2005, when Wenxia was pregnant, she quitted job and went home. But at that time, the factory did not pay for the Pregnancy Insurance, and she can apply for not working overtime after getting pregnant. But during the maternity leave, she got no pregnancy subsidy. The salary was not given according to the average monthly salary before. Instead, she only got the basic salary.

 

Being unemployed, what’s going on with her family?

 

Wenxia’s husband’s mother passed away for a long time; his father stayed at the hometown being sick. They also have two daughters. The elder one is 20 years old and she did not have a work. The younger one is 10 years old and studying at a private school in Shenzhen. The school charges ¥2700 per semester. With the transportation and meal fee, the cost per semester is ¥3700.

 

Now Wenxia and her husband were unemployed and cannot find new job. And the couple do not want to leave Shenzhen because it is better not to change school for her daughter frequently. So Wenxia is still staying at Shenzhen to take care of her daughter. As a result, she is not able to work in factories because of the long working hour.

 

It is the toughest moment of her family. However most factories do not employ workers over 40 years old. It is very difficult for Wenxia and her husband to find regular jobs. Throughout their working lives, they never joined the Pension Insurance. So they can get to pension after retirement. So what will happen when they get old? Wenxia hope that she can pay back for the pension contribution such that she can receive pension when after retirement.

 

Please click here for more information about Disney's silence and the full investigative report.

Postcard Campaign to Support the Chinese Labour Activists

21

Apr 2016

 

Labour organisations in Guangdong Province encountered a large-scale crackdown between the 3rd and 5th December 2015.  At least 25 employees and volunteers from four labour organiszations were detained and questioned by the police and seven of them were put into prolonged custody or forced to “disappear”. After a series of global advocacy and actions by Chinese workers, five activists were released. Yet, Zeng Feiyang, director of Panyu Migrant Workers Centre, and his colleague Meng Han continue to be detained.  Thus, the HKCTU and labour organisations launched a global postcard campaign in demanding the immediate release of the activists and a halt to the crackdown on civil society. We would like to cordially invite individuals and labour organizations to join the campaign as a gesture of solidarity. Details of the action can be found below:

 

If you are in Hong Kong:

  • Download the postcard and print them on heavy card paper or collect them from the HKCTU. (The jpg file includes the front and back of the postcard - you will have to fold it in half and affix the two sides together to make a postcard.)
  • Write an optional message and sign the postcards.
  • Bring or send the postcards back to HKCTU before 7 May 2016 at: 19/F, Wing Wong Commericail Building, 557-559 Nathan Road, Yaumatei, Hong Kong
  • All postcards from HK will be collected and sent together in one batch to the detention centres in China on May 9, 2016.

 

If you are outside of Hong Kong

  • Download the postcards, print them on heavy card paper. (The jpg file includes the front and back of the postcard - you will have to fold it in half and affix the two sides together to make a postcard.)
  • Write an optional message and sign the postcard.
  • Mail the postcard directly to the Chinese Embassy or General Consulate in your country.
  • Please take a photo with the postcards and email it to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with the total number of e-postcards collected or upload to your social media as signs of support.

 

Breaking News: HE Xiaobo was released. Two still being detained

08

Apr 2016

 

The photo was taken on the released day (7 April 2016). HE held his daughter on his arm, his wife is on the sofa. (Photos from ifeng.com - http://news.ifeng.com/a/20160408/48392291_0.shtml?from=singlemessage&isappinstalled=)

 

HE Xiaobo, one of the seven detained Guangdong labour activists and director of the Nanfeiyan Workers Service Center, was released on bail and returned home to his family yesterday evening. In an audio message, He affirmed that he has returned home safely and would like to extend his gratitude to everyone for their support.

 

During his captivity, He was constantly subjected to severe psychological and physical abuse.  Not only was he put to long hours of interrogation, Xiaobo also suffered from a benign liver tumor.  The case was widely reported in the international media, which must be attributed Xiaobo's wife, Yang Min.  Although Yang Min was under house arrest for a brief period, she persistently published Xiaobo's news and created much awareness, which led to the eventual release of He. 

 

So far, five Guangdong labour activists has been released, with Zeng Feiyang & Meng Han still being detained. The charges on the released activists have yet to be dropped.

 

Threat against Meng Han’s family

Since the first day of his detention, Meng was interrogated successively for 16 days in a row. He was only allowed to sleep for two to three hours per day. The authorities questioned Meng on the operations of Panyu Migrant Workers Centre and the strike at Lide Shoe Factory. The police assumed that MENG had led, promoted and fuelled the labour dispute and demanded Meng to accuse Zeng Feiyang in exchange of a lenient sentence. Meng could meet his lawyer after several requests from his lawyer, he told his lawyer that he refused the above bait from the authorities and denied the accusations.

 

On the other hand, Meng's girlfriend and his parents received harassments from their landlord on a number of occassions since his detention and they were forced to move although their tenancy would not be due until 2017. On 29 March, several unidentified men gathered around Meng's home and approached Meng's girlfriend with iron clubs when she opened the door. They hit the door with their iron clubs in brute force and inflicted substaintial damage when Meng's girlfriend tried to close the door. Despite Meng's father reported the crime to the police on the same night, the police were relutant to investigate and just told them to move.

The door lock lock of Meng's home was damaged after the attack by a few unknown men. (Photos from Weibo)

 

Zeng Feiyang’s condition is unknown

Zeng’s rights to see his lawyer have been illegally denied and his condition remains unknown. The official media Xinhua judged him before the trial from the court’s decision. As a smear campaign to defame Zeng and the Panyu Center, the official media Xinhua News Agency published an article on 22 December last year and alleged the Lide Shoe Factory Strike as a "major public order disturbance incident". Zeng was involved in organising Lide Shoe Factory workers, who demanded the repayment of their missing social insurance and severance pay. Yet the state media accused him of, “making use of free rights defending services to accept overseas funding, severely disrupting social order and violating labour rights”. The media also adopted stigmatization to discredit Zeng, indicating that Zeng had used rights defending as a means to gain sexual privileges and took part in online nude chats and prostitution. The state media, China Central Television (CCTV) even came up with a 24-minute documentary to support the official story.

 

The background of the above crackdown

Since 3 December, the authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have carried out a coordinated and wide-ranging crackdown on labour rights activists and labour organizations in the province. More than 25 people from at least four labour organizations were taken away and questioned by the police. Seven of them were criminally detained or uncertain whereabouts.

 

Meng's father's detailed written record about the harassment against hos family so far, the attack on 29 Mar 2016 and the forced removal by landlord although the tenancy is due in 2017 but not this year

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