Labour News

 

 

August 1

 

The Pingshan General Union granted permission to the establishment of the JASIC trade union preparatory committee, with the vice chairman of the Pingshan Union, Huang Jianxun, appointed as the committee chair, while the company’s Director of Investment Project, Zhang Zhiying, was appointed vice chair of the committee.  Such appointments unveiled the blatant collaborations between the ACFTU and the management.

Document indicates that ACFTU bureaucrat, Huang, and Jasic management personnel, Zhang, were the Chair and Vice-chair of the Jasic Union Preparatory Committee respectively

 

Two lawyers managed to approach two arrested workers’ representatives, Mi Jiuping and Yu Yucong, in Shenzhen Longgang Detention Centre.  The workers were told that they had been detained on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”, but they refused to confess and continue to fight on.

 

August 7

 

14 arrested workers and 1 student were released, with another 14 workers still under detention.  Upon their releases, some of the JASIC workers exposed various acts of extrajudicial torture, including violence and sexual harassment.  In an online video, one of the released workers, Lan Zhiwei, explained the violence in prison.

Worker told of his ordeal in prison

 

August 11

 

According to online reports, one of the main members of the Solidarity Supporters Group, Shen Mengyu, was taken away by a number of unknown assailants in the public and disappeared ever since.  The Solidarity Supporters Groups alleged that the police concealed key evidence and denounced its unresponsiveness in the investigation.  The whereabouts of Shen remains unknown as of the writing of this report.

Shen Mengyu

 

August 16

 

About 40 members of the Solidarity Supporters Group were blockaded by the Police while on their way to hand in a petition to the Pingshan Political and Legal Affairs Commission.  After a standoff at an intersection for almost three hours, the deputy commissioner arrived at the scene to receive the petition.

Supporters blocked by the police on their way to hand in petition

 

Photo Credits: 時代先鋒

JASIC Workers Supporters Group Member - Shen Mengyu Taken Away by Unknown Assailants

15

Aug 2018

 

As the JASIC labour struggle continues to brew, the workers and their supporters are still facing immense suppressions from all sides. Most recently, one of the main members of the Solidarity Supporters Group, Shen Mengyu, was taken away by a number of unknown assailants in the public and disappeared ever since.

 

According to online reports, Shen Mengyu was taken away by three unidentified men while having dinner with her parents and two friends on August 11. During the incident, one of the men blocked Shen’s friends from coming to her aid while the other two forced Shen into a black private car and took her away. Upon learning of the incident, members of the Supporters Group immediately rushed from their hotel room to help, only to find out that the elevator was out of order and they had to take the stairs from ninth floor. However, when they arrived at the scene, the black private car had already escaped without a trace.

 

 

When members of the Supporters Group asked for surveillance camera images from the hotel, the owner rejected the request after interference from a suspected plainclothes police officer. They then reported the incident to the police, but the police delayed the reporting process on purpose. After taking brief statements at the scene, the police took the two witnesses to the Huizhou Xinxi Police Station for further questionings. Several members of the Supporter Group also accompanied the witnesses to the police station for fear of their safety. Upon arrival at the police station, members of the Solidarity Group asked the police to investigate the surveillance camera images on the main routes leading to Shenzhen, but found that four key surveillance cameras were out of order. Meanwhile, the two witnesses also met with impediments from the police during the questioning process. The whereabouts of Shen Mengyu is still unidentified as of today (15/8/2018).

 

 

The Supporters Group has since issued a statement to demand the parties who are responsible for Shen’s disappearance to surrender to the authorities immediately, while the Support Group also reiterate that they are not to be deterred by coercion and will continue to support the legitimate rights and interests of the JASIC workers.

Released JASIC Workers Reveal Violence in Prison

09

Aug 2018

 

As of August 7, 15 detained workers and students from the JASIC workers struggle have since been released, but many of them revealed that they had been physically abused by the police during their detentions.

 

Since their releases, some of the JASIC workers exposed various acts of extrajudicial torture, including violence and sexual harassment.  For instance, a female worker, Huang, was beaten in the head by three police officers until her lips bled; another male worker, Hu, was handcuffed to an iron chair and forced him immovable for 24 hours.  Meanwhile, female workers were watched by male policemen in lavatories and a male worker, Mu, was publicly insulted by the prison guards when he was forced to lick an apple cut in the shape of the female sex organ in front of some fifty prisoners.

 

Worker Lan Zhiwei displays his wounds in a video showing how he was abused by the police during his detention

 

On the other hand, the workers are still being tracked and monitored by government officials even after their detentions.  Since their releases on August 4, the workers were asked to report to the Pingshan Police every half an hour.  If they failed to do so, their family would be harassed and intimidated by the police.  Thus, their personal freedom is still immensely restricted regardless of their confinement conditions.

 

Besides, another 14 JASIC workers are still under detention since the July 27 arrests, including Zhang Zezhen, the mother of a five-month old baby.  Given the abuses endured by the released workers, the conditions of the still detained workers are indeed very distressing.

 

Source: https://www.shidaixianfeng.tk/archives/13791

JASIC workers’ struggle for freedom of association - The development of a nationwide support

06

Aug 2018

 

Original Text and Photos in Chinese: CUHK Grassroots Concern Group

 

Introduction

While many students are relaxing during the summer vacation, some students from China rushed to Shenzhen to support the workers of a welding equipment manufacturer, JASIC Technology, where workers were physically assaulted and arrested for forming their own independent union. In recent years, there have been many strikes in Mainland China, as collective labour actions of various magnitude broke out across the nation due to factory closures and insufficient labour protections, such as the recent truck drivers’ strike and tower crane operators' strike just to name a few. But the JASIC workers did not only stand up for the sake of improving their material gains, they took action to form trade union to empower and organize the workers in the long run. But in a country that claimed to be "socialist," the JASIC workers were being suppressed by the joint force of employer, national union, and police. Until now, 30 workers have been detained for more 144 hours. Why are they being suppressed? What is the context of the incident? We hope that this article can provide some basic answers.

 

 

Background

 

JASIC Technology is a publicly listed welding equipment manufacturer with more than 10,000 employees. In a joint statement released by the JASIC Workers Solidarity Group, the workers pointed out that the company illegally “change the workers rest time”; workers were told to "walk for ten kilometers" in Julong Mountain during their rest time, and were ordered to work overtime after the walk.  The company also establish an illegal punitive scheme whilst the workers would be fined for “misbehaviours” such as “talking in work”, “adjust the air-conditioning below 26 degrees”, “fail to turn off the lights after work", and "male workers who dye their hair or wear tattoos". The range of the fines starts from 100 to 300 yuan (daily wage is about 100 yuan). In order to penalize the workers, the company would peek into the staff on the toilet. Moreover, the company also owes the workers of their housing provident fund.

 

So in mid-May, some workers decided to complain to the Pingshan General Union. At that time, the district trade unions said that they could form a trade union to solve the problem. However, in mid-June, the employer went ahead of the worker to set up an "Employees General Meeting" and appointed their trusted aides as the union leaders.

 

 

The Trigger to Collective Action

 

The workers have no rights to form union?

Although Article 3 of Chapter 1 of the Chinese Trade Union Law states that all “workers have the right to participate in and organize trade unions according to law,” and "no organization or individual may obstruct or restrict”, Article 10 of Chapter 2 also stipulated that there must be a “unified All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU)” (the whole body), and all local or industrial trade unions must be under the leadership of the Federation; at the same time, the establishment of all trade unions must be seek approval from higher level trade unions (Article 11). For instance, if the JASIC workers want to form a trade union in their factory, they need the permission from the Pingshan General Union. The problem is that many of the so-called trade unions under the ACFTU are "yellow trade unions", which are mainly manipulated by the employers. Corrupted elections has turned most of these “yellow union” into employers’ puppets, rather than pioneers who fight for workers’ rights at the negotiating table. Therefore, it is often difficult for workers to organize genuine unions.

 

Can the workers form their own union?

Since legally, only one union is allowed in each workplace, many employers would establish their own “yellow union” (a union that support the employer) and arrange their trusted aide to become the leadership of the unions, in order to exclude the workers from the power core. One of the reasons that triggered the JASIC despite was the company went ahead of the workers to established its own union in June, shortly after the workers complained and seek approval the Pingshan General Union to form a trade union in mid-May. The employer has since suppressed and dismissed the workers who attempted to form genuine trade union.

 

Can the workers reclaim the union?

According to the WK News, some enterprise based trade unions are controlled by the management. Moreover, in the elections of trade union representatives, many employers exercise their authority to elect their union leadership: “many employers would ask the employees to endorse their appointed candidates, and no one dares to question the candidates. They would sometimes ask the employees to sign the endorsement forms even before the names of the candidates were filled out.” Demonstrating that employers can continue to control trade unions be means of authority and coercion, which makes unions virtually toothless.

 

Timeline: Suppression on JASIC workers and their supporters

Since the demand to form their independent union by the JASIC workers, not only have the employers deprived them of the power to organize trade unions, the workers were also transferred and dismissed by the employer. Moreover, the workers were later arrested and detained by the government. The involved JASIC workers have since requested to return to work repeatedly, but was dealt with violently. At the same time, students from several universities have expressed their support in various open letters and have already received more over 1000 petitions. Some students even rushed to the Shenzhen Government to submit their open letters and were also detained. Here are the main events timeline that we have compiled from multiple reports:

 

 

Escalation: Employer and police colluded to suppress the workers

 

July 12

Under the direction of the District General Union, the employees who prepared the trade union formation distributed the “Preference to Join the JASIC Union Form” to their co-works, with as many as 89 employees endorsed. However, the company defamed the worker representatives by saying that they deceived their colleagues to sign by deceitful proclaiming the document as "firefighting training" related.

 

July 16

Liu Penghua, the worker representative who formed the trade union, was transferred to other workshops for no reason, and was beaten by two unidentified people. Afterwards, the perpetrators were escorted by a special car. After the workers reported the police, the police ignored Liu Penghua’s injury and instead requested mediation. Liu Penghua has been detained until 12 am until other workers demanded his release.

 

July 17

News of Liu Penghua’s incident was widely spread in Pingshan.

 

July 18

Another worker representative, Mi Jiuping, was asked by the district union department head, Xie Zhihai, to make an announcement to declare that the preparation of the trade union had nothing to do with the district trade union. Later, he was asked to be transferred by the company but he refused.  Mi was violently expelled from the factory by security guards on orders from management personnel, Zhu Xiaohuan.

 

A worker who came to his help was physically threatened and dismissed.

 

July 20

The worker representatives were violently obstructed and expelled by the security guards when returning to work. They were later beaten and detained by the government. At noon, more than 20 workers went to the police station to demand their release, they were also detained by the police.

 

July 21

At around 10 am, the arrested workers were released after being illegally detained by the Pingshan Yanziling police station for 24 hours. Around 2:30 pm, all detained workers were also released.

 

July 22

Workers from JASIC Technology and Solidarity Group protested at the Yanziling Police Station. At 9 pm, a policeman who is known as the secretary of the Disciplinary Committee of the Pingshan Public Security Bureau made a promise that he would investigate the illegal misconducts of the police and will inform the workers with the investigations results in three days’ time. However, when the workers called the Pingshan police station after three days, they were told to “wait for a few more days!”

 

July 24

The employed organized a team of management personnel to blockade the factory entrance in order to prohibit the dismissed workers from returning to work.

 

July 27

30 people, including worker representatives, their families and other supporters protested at the factory to demand work reinstatement, but were besieged and later arrested by riot police, including Xi’an university student, Hu Kaiqiao. At least 6 workers were detained by the police on charges of “Picking Quarrels & Provoking Troubles”.

 

 

Boiling Over: worker detentions and nationwide support

 

July 29

Students from Peking University published petition in support of the JASIC workers. Initiated by Yue Lu, the student who had been punished by the Peking University’s sexual assault case earlier, the petition demanded the release of the workers, guarantee workers’ rights to organize trade unions, and public investigations by local authorities. They believe that the importance of this incident is that workers are not demanding "individual short-term interests," but "promoting goals such as the establishment of independent unions through democratic means." The petition enticed dozens of students and citizens to co-sign. However, the WeChat public account that shared the petition was immediately deleted by the officials in a matter of few hours. Students from Nanjing University also published a petition “to stand alongside the Pingshan workers resolutely." On the same day, in another petition, students from the Renmin University of China condemned the Yanziling police station for “not only failing to safeguard workers’ rights, but also physically assault and detain the workers”, just like the “running dog of the old ruling class”.

 

July 30

Students from China University of Political Science and Law and Tsinghua University published petitions in support of the JASIC workers, summoning public support, and demanding public awareness on the rule of law and labour issues in the country, and stressed that “to support the JASIC workers is the same as supporting ourselves.." 15 representatives of the JASIC workers solidarity group, including workers and students, went to the Pingshan District Government at 4:30 in the afternoon to hand an open letter to the Pingshan Municipal Government in demanding an investigation on the beating up of the workers by the police but was taken to the police station to be “called upon and educated”.  They were released at 9 pm on the same night.

 

August 1

In the morning, representatives from the HKCTU, LSD, Labour Party, Socialist Action, and Workers Empowerment marched from the Western District Police Station to the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong, demanding the immediate release of the workers and their supporters, reinstating the dismissed workers' representatives, and recognizing the independent union formed by the JASIC workers. On the evening of the same day, SACOM published “An open letter from scholars to the Shenzhen Government and FTU regarding violence against Jasic workers attempting to unionize”. About 100 scholars co-signed the letter. The letter pointed out that the incident pointed out "This incident reflects the vast disparity of power between capital and labor in contemporary China... When workers propose to organize a union in accordance with the law, and to mediate an industrial dispute within the framework of the law, they are suppressed by the company, the police, and higher levels of the union apparatus. When companies violate labor laws and regulations, on the other hand, they are able to mobilize the police and the union system in order to oppose workers’ demands to form unions in accordance with the law. "

 

August 2

More than 20 student and labour organizations published a petition in support of the JASIC workers. It is said that the company's actions are "not to be approved by the workers from both sides of the strait" as they are also oppressed by "the capitalists and their agents (governments)". Thus, they support the JASIC workers struggle. It is reported that the arrested student, Hu Kaiqiao, was released, but 30 workers were still detained for more than 144 hours.

 

Sources:

WK News

時代先鋒

普工之聲

China Digital Times

The initium

世界之聲

VOA Chinese

DW Chinese

有線中國組

Hong Kong 01

Protest in Hong Kong to Support the Right to Form Union in China

01

Aug 2018

Photo Credit: inmediahk

 

On August 1, more than 30 representatives from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and civil society protested against the arrest of 30 workers, who tried to form their independent union in Shenzhen earlier last month.  Chanting slogans such as “Release Jasic Workers Now”, and “We want genuine union”, the protestors marched to Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong, the protestors dispersed after handing in a petition letter.

 

The petition was initiated by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and joined by 19 organizations.  In the petition, the cosigners would like to stress that the Pingshan General Union, as an experimental unit of the ACFTU “Reform Pilot Program”, not only had it fail to enhance its capacity to protect worker rights, they have even become an accomplice to dismiss, beat up, and arrest the workers who try to organize trade union as authorized by the law of China.  Such “Reform Pilot Program”, is an utter sham.  Meanwhile, Jasic’s Chairman of the Board, Pan Lei was also a member of the Shenzhen People’s Congress. The case of Jasic indicates that government officials, ACFTU, and businesses are working together to silence the workers.”

On 21 July 2018, employees of Shenzhen Jasic Technology published an open letter through social media. The letter accused the management, the local union, and the police for jointly suppressing the workers who hoped to form a union, violently assaulting the workers who defended their rights and the people who supported them. The open letter pointed out that even though the detained workers are now released, the dismissed workers of the incident are not yet reinstated. The workers who were assaulted are still protesting against the management and the local police station, in the hope of seeking redress.

 

The incident started from the illegal doings of the exchange listed company - Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co. Ltd. - including violating the rights of the workers, illegally changing the workers’ rest days, fining the workers illegally (which is referred to as “Jasic’s 18 Bans” by workers), underpaying the workers’ housing fund, and leaking employees’ information to establish a blacklist.

 

On 10 May 2018, workers went to the Human Resources Bureau in Pingshan district and the Pingshan federation of trade unions to seek help, where the Vice Chairperson of the federation Huang Jianxun suggested them to form a union. Therefore, they filed an application to form an union at the local trade unions’ office, and started organizing workers to join the union under the approval and direction of the street’s federation of trade union. They successfully organized a group of workers to join.

 

However, on 12 July 2018, four union staff including the Vice Chairperson Huang Jianxun, along with Jasic’s Vice General Manager Xia Ruyi, the Human Resources Director Li Hongpo, and the departmental manger, met with one of the workers who led the formation of the union Mi Jiuping, accusing their formation of union as illegal.

On 16 July, another workers’ representative Liu Penghua was assigned to work at other position by the management. On the same day, he was beaten by two unknown person in the factory, and the assaulters were sent out of the factory with car escort. Liu reported the incident to the police however he was arrested by the police, asking him to seek mediation. At around midnight that day, he was released upon the request of other workers.

 

On 18 July, Xie Zhihai, a staff of the federation of trade unions at the party service station in Julong Garden asked Mi Jiuping to write a declaration stating that the matter of union formation is not related to the district federation of trade unions. Mi Jiuping refused. In the same afternoon, the factory asked Mi Jiuping to work at another position, which he refused too. Then the management asked the security guards to violently kick out Mi Jiuping from the factory, and another worker Song Yao was also threatened by the management. The two workers are dismissed on the same day, which both of them disagreed.

 

On 20 July, six workers’ representative, including Mi, Song, and Liu went back to work as usual. They were kicked out from the factory violently by the factory’s security guard, and then they were assaulted and detained by the police. At noon of the same day, more than 20 workers who learned the news went to the police station to protest and demand the release of the detained workers’ representatives. They were arrested too. All of the detained workers are released on the same night.

 

More than 100 workers went to protest in front of the police station on 23 July, demanding for an explanation of the police assault to the workers, and compensation for the workers’ medical costs. They protested until 7pm that night. 24 July, the dismissed workers went to protest in front of the factory, demanding for reinstatement of the dismissed workers’ representatives. Police was guarding at the scene, and the management asked some other workers to the gate, calling the workers’ representatives who wanted to form an union as “sabotager” of the company’s economic revenue, asking them to “get out”, and saying that they would reserve the rights to pursue lawsuits. But the workers’ fight continued.

 

Jasic workers’ continuous struggle shows no fear to the suppression from the government, the business, the police force, and the Pingshan federation of trade unions. Their campaign is spread across the internet in mainland China. “Dozens of years on our knees, we won’t get down any more!” the workers said so in their speech on the street. From 27 to 30 July, police arrested many workers and supporters who defended their rights. More than 30 people were under criminal detention. As of 30 July, 15 supporters were called by the police, which no one could reach them.

Mainland workers’ freedom of association has long been limited. As stipulated by China’s “Union Law”, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is the only legal trade union body. All trade unions have to get the approval and direction of ACFTU’s superior unions before they are allowed to be formed, which means all trade unions have to be ACFTU’s affiliates. In this incident, ACFTU’s accusation against the workers’ representatives is absurd. Because Mi Jiuping already sought for the street’s federation of trade unions’ opinion beforehand, then he organized the workers and formed a union as the staff suggested. However, they disowned the statement and accused Mi’s formation of trade union as illegal. It blatantly violates the little freedom of association left for the workers, suppresses the workers’ rights to form an union by law.

 

Shenzhen Jasic Technology Co. Ltd.’s CEO Pan Lei is an incumbent of the Shenzhen National People’s Congress deputy and a member of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference for Longgang district; the human resources manager Guo Liqun is also a NPC deputy for Pingshan district.  One can’t help but start to wonder that the ACFTU’s change of stance may be relevant to the pressure from the local government officials.

 

The incident once again proved that the “party before workers” ACFTU does not defend the workers’ entitled rights. It will only collude with the government and the business, suppress the workers’ movement in an attempt to maintain stability. Forming the authentic and independent unions is the only and the most powerful weapon against exploitation of the workers. The Chinese government should put the freedom of association which workers are entitled to into practice, change the “Union Law” in order to let the workers organize their own authentic and independent unions to protect their own rights.

In Hong Kong, the protestors demanded the Chinese Government and the Shenzhen Government to release all workers and supporters and guaranteed that they will not be prosecuted.  Meanwhile, the protestors also reiterated all dismissed workers should be reinstate immediately.  At the same time, the Pingshan General Unions should allow the Jasic workers to form a trade union according to law, stop supporting yellow union, and investigate the collaborations between vice chairman ,Huang Jianxun, and chief of the department, Xie Zhihai, who allegedly sold out the workers.

Workers’ representative breaking through restrain - Female Worker Shen Meng-yu

16

Jul 2018

Editor’s note: How did true workers’ representative break through restrain and suppression by yellow union or official union, and get a seat on the negotiation table?  How did workers elect their true representatives in mainland China which was filled with fake elections?   At NHK Spring Precision (Guangzhou) Co., Ltd (hereafter “NSPG”), the OEM of Honda, workers answered these questions in their brilliant way.

 

Her name is Shen Meng-yu.  On 19 June 2018, she filed a case against the NSPG at the Guangzhou Court of Labor and Personnel Dispute Arbitration.  Shen Meng-yu worked as a dispatch worker at NSPG since November 2015, and became a formal worker in 2016.  In 2018, Shen and other workers broke through restrains of the official union, and elected Shen as a representative to collective bargaining on annual wage increment. However, both the NSPG and the official union were not happy with this “unusual” workers’ representative, and fired her based on made-up excuses.  Shen Meng-yu thus filed a lawsuit against the NSPG for “unlawful” dismissal.

 

Elections of workers’ representatives were often mere formality.  In the general election of NSPG Union in June 2017, the whole process was controlled by the employer.  It was said that workers could only sign on the ballot and the name of the elected person was filled in by the employer to control result of union chairperson.  It was how the chairperson of the official union, Guo Zheng-yong, was elected.  Later, he worked closely with the employer to suppress Shen Meng-yu’s status as workers representative.

The “collective bargaining on wage and annual bonus” was another formality where the official union and the employer colluded to put up a performance.  The employer was planning to release the news after a few rounds of “negotiation” with the official union, as usual.  However, workers have learned from the strikes of automobile workers in Guangzhou in 2010 that official union and the employer were of the same batch.  This time, they decided to choose their own representative. 

 

Election through the We-chat groups

Discussion to elect workers’ representative by one-person-one-vote started among the workers.  The workers conducted an informal referendum through the We-chat groups and 90% of the workers agreed to elect their representative by one-person-one-vote.  In the second voting through the We-chat groups, Shen Meng-yu was elected.  With the support of the workers, Shen Meng-yu became one of the representatives at the negotiation process.  Among the nine representatives, she was the only one supported by the workers, not designated by the official union.

 

Shen Meng-yu did not gain the support of workers overnight.   The workers and Shen were echoing workers of other automobile factories in Guangzhou to fight for provident fund paid by employers to dispatch workers.   After Shen was elected as negotiation representative on 10 April, she started to collect opinions from the workers to fight against the telling of “no resources for wage increase” by the employer. 

Under the pressure from the workers, the official union had to accept Shen Meng-yu as negotiation representative.  However, the employer and the official union tried every way to disqualify her. On the one hand, she was forbidden by the employer to return to her workplace to “stir-up the workers”, while in fact it was to stop her from conducting questionnaire survey in the factory.  On the other hand, the official union claimed that there was “complaint on irregularities in the election process” and postponed the negotiation with the employer, and suspended the qualification of the workers’ representatives.  These two moves were made on 16 and 17 April respectively, an obvious demonstration of the collusion between the employer and the official union.  On 24 April, the official union proposed to disqualify Shen Meng-yu as worker representative after an “investigation”.  Guo Zheng-yong called for a general assembly but the official union lost the game as workers voted down the proposal. The move has made Shen Meng-yu’s status as worker representative to negotiation even stronger. Shen Meng-yu urged the union to restart the negotiation and adopt “wage increment of 8%” as the basis of negotiation.

 

The employer stepped in after the failure of the official union.   Numerous posters to defame Shen Meng-yu suddenly appeared in the factory, accusing her of destroying the negotiation.  On 21 May, the employer asked the union to replace Shen Meng-yu or the negotiation would be called off.  By late May, the personnel department accused Shen Meng-yu for providing untruthful resume and leaking confidential information of the company, and recorded a demerit on her personal file.  Using these excuses, Guo Zheng-yong disqualified her as negotiation representative.  The employer dismissed her immediately.

The fact that the union and the employer joined hands to dismiss Shen Meng-yu proved that her proposal was supported by the workers.   The employer has to respond to workers’ demand, even after playing a high-hand on the workers’ representative.  In June, NSPG announced the proposal of 6% wage increase and 4-month-salary annual bonus.  On the day Shen Meng-yu filed the lawsuit with the Guangzhou Court of Labor and Personnel Dispute Arbitration, the employer announced repayment of provident fund for dispatch workers.

 

“In the process, we won our rights, as well as our dignity of a human being!  There were people fired and peopled tartged, but it was only because we did not have enough workers in solidarity!”  Shen Meng-yu wrote.  The war is not finished yet.  Shen Meng-yu will meet the NSPG at the court to defend her status as elected negotiation representative of the workers.

 

Reports for reference (Chinese):

Worker representative: the road of worker Shen Meng-yu

https://bit.ly/2lSSOqJ

 

Letter of query from Shen Meng-yu to union chairperson Guo Zheng-yong

https://bit.ly/2tUOFXX

 

Shen Meng-yu’s letter to Human Resources and Social Security Bureau of Guangzhou

https://bit.ly/2tTq1ac

 

Voice from Meng-yu: Solidarity is power

https://bit.ly/2KOK28a

Doctors prosecuted for fulfilling their duties Elegy of workers with pneumoconiosis defending rights

16

Jul 2018

In November 2017, activists and groups in concern of pneumoconiosis workers burst into an uproar as three doctors of Guizhou Aerospace Hospital was accused of “mal-diagnosis of pneumoconiosis” and prosecuted by local Public Security Bureau for “dereliction of duty of personnel of state-owned enterprises”.  Within the 6 months after the arrest, the case was returned to the prosecutor department twice for reinvestigation, and is now in its third round of prosecution.

 

Chinese government’s suppression on the three doctors, Wang Heng-ping, Zhang Xiao-bo and Dong You-rui, started as early as August 2016, when Dr Wang Heng-ping and another doctor Luo Jing-song was arrested by the Public Security Bureau of Sui Yang County of Zun Yi Prefecture for criminal causes and put on bail pending a trial.  The pending prosecution was not relieved until August 2017.  During the period, the Public Security Bureau retrieved records of 1353 pneumoconiosis patients for investigation.  Dr Wang Heng-ping was arrested again by the Zun Yi government in June 2017 for crime of fraud, and released on bail in July pending trial.  He was then prosecuted for “dereliction of duty of personnel of state-owned enterprises” on 1 November.  In October, Dr Zhang Xiao-bo and Dr Dong You-rui was also arrested for “dereliction of duty of personnel of state-owned companies, enterprises and institutions”, and put on bail on the next day.  On 24 November, they were also prosecuted for “dereliction of duty of personnel of state-owned enterprises”.  On 23 June 2018, the three doctors were released on bail after 7 months in jail.  The case was not closed yet.

The public security re-examined X-ray films of 547 records from the 1353 retrieved records and reconfirmed 42 pneumoconiosis cases. The 92.3% diagnostic difference was said to be personal errors of the three doctors which caused wastage of RMB 30 million social security fund, and thus the cause of “dereliction of duty of personnel of state-owned enterprises”.  However, according to doctors’ training material in mainland China, mistakes in reading X-ray film of pneumoconiosis range between 18.8 – 33.2%, which is a difficult diagnostic item.  The 505 records found to be mis-diagnosed constitute 30.7% of the 1640 records of the hospital, which is within the normal range of difference.  Thus, doctors and patients’ families consider that the diagnostic errors are technical errors instead of human errors, and the doctors should not be penalized.  The incident has brought additional burden to the workers with pneumoconiosis.

It has always been challenging for pneumoconiosis workers to defend their rights, as it was difficult for them to obtain diagnostic report of occupational disease. Employers have refuse or delayed provision of information, or provide incorrect information in the diagnostic process of occupational disease, which greatly reduce the chance for correct diagnosis by doctors or experts.  Even if the final diagnosis confirms occupational pneumoconiosis, workers might have already accumulated heavy debts due to high medical costs over the long delay, and some of them might have passed away in the prolonged waiting.  Doctors and experts would probably tend to be more conservative in diagnosing pneumoconiosis after this incident, which would greatly reduce the rate of occupational pneumoconiosis diagnosis since pneumoconiosis workers can only rely on the diagnostic report to claim work injury compensation or personal injury under the present legal provision.  This would eventually result in serious damage to rights of pneumoconiosis workers.

While mal-practice of doctors to reap benefits by forging medical records should be severely punished, the fact that the case was returned twice to the prosecutor for re-investigation showed that the public security did not have substantial evidence in the prosecution and over 6-month detention of the three doctors.  The incident is clearly a threat against the doctors to cut down number of diagnostic report of occupational pneumoconiosis, to protect the interest of the employers and reduce spending of occupational disease compensation at the expense of pneumoconiosis workers’ rights.  If the pneumoconiosis workers’ right to reasonable compensation cannot be protected by the system, the incident of “open-chest examination” in 2009 might happen again.  The government would eventually eat its own fruit in the outbreak of workers’ rage.

Breakthrough of the Saipan Industrial Action

18

Apr 2018

Breakthrough of the Saipan Industrial Action

US Labour Department's Intervention led to Four Contractors Repaying USD 14 million Compensation

 

In March 2017, a worker fell from and died in a construction site of a casino on Saipan Island, a project invested by Hong Kong listed company Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd (HKEx stock code: 1076).  The investigation conducted by the FBI confirmed that the contractors had employed a large number of illegal workers from China. Moreover, the four contractors, namely Chinese state-owned Metallurgical Corporation of China Limited, Nanjing Beilida New Material System Engineering, Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration and Sino Great Wall Co., were found to owe workers their wages, fail to provide labour insurance, illegally withhold workers' passports and violate other labour legislations. An industrial action was triggered and workers demanded their missing wages and legal compensation. After a year of tug of war, finally a breakthrough takes place.

 

According to Li Qiang from China Labor Watch, each worker paid 10,000 Yuan before arriving Saipan Island, a considerable amount to the labour agency, while it promised to pay her/him daily wages of USD 450. On one hand, this amount is lower than the local legal minimum wages; on the other hand, the labour agency did not apply work permits for workers. In other words, they entered Saipan Island as tourists and worked as illegal workers there. According to the workers, though they had paid the fee to the labour agency as instructed, the wages they received were lower than what they had been promised. The contractors also withheld their passports and they were forced to work under exploitative conditions. Without a legal status, the contractors could get away without offering them labour insurance, thus when a worker got sick or injured, s/he had to pay for the medical expenses her/himself. Since 2017, workers have launched a series of protests, to demand the contractors and Imperial Pacific to repay their missing wages and compensation. However, Imperial Pacific kept claiming it was a dispute between contractors and workers and wanted to stay untouched, while the contractors turned away from workers.

 

Workers' efforts and determination finally forced the US Labour Department to get involved. On 5 March 2018, it announced that an agreement had been reached between four contractors and the workers, to repay and compensate over 2,400 workers (including those who had returned to China) an amount of USD 14 million.  Such an agreement triggered some discussions among Chinese netizens. They wonder, while workers are often accused of “disturbing social order” or even “subversion” in China when they are fighting for their rights, the so-called “hostile foreign force” is indeed helping Chinese citizens defend themselves, they even speculate that foreign governments are kinder to Chinese people.  It is hard to say if their speculation is true, but assuredly, workers' solidarity and determination played the most significant role in their quest for justice. When each vulnerable worker joins force, they can maximize their chance to reclaim their rights.

 
Guangzhou Handbag Workers Claim Victory Through Collective Bargaining

22

Mar 2018

 

Guangzhou Panyu Simone Handbag Co. Ltd. (“Panyu Simone”) is a South Korean-owned enterprise that established in 1992. Earlier in March this year, more than 1000 workers from the factory went on a nine-day strike to fight for remuneration on pension and other work-related benefits.  Throughout the strike, the workers displayed tremendous solidarity and finally forced the employer to respond their demands by means of collective bargaining.

 

Panyu Simone is a handbag manufacturer that mainly produces and supplies mid to high-end leatherwear for luxury brands such as Michael Kors in China.  Before 2012, Panyu Simone was the supplier for Burberry.  While Michael Kors is famous for its celebrity clienteles such as former American First Lady Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, Chinese workers received meagre wages and have to work extra long hours to ensure a basic living. Most workers have worked for over 10 years in the factory, however Panyu Simone have not paid for workers’ entitled pension, housing provident fund and other work-related benefits. Workers thus started a strike in March to fight for their rights. There are total 1,242 staff in the company, in which over 1,000 frontline workers, except management staff, joined the strike.

Negotiation between workers' representatives and management

 

In January 2018, two Panyu Simone workers filed complaints of the company’s misconducts to the Social Insurance Bureau and Labour Law Enforcement Office. Firstly, their social insurance premiums were underpaid for years - the premiums were calculated by the city’s minimum wages rather than in real wages and were not paid since the commencement of employment.  Some were paid since 2001 but some were not paid until 2006.  On the other hand, Panyu Simone had never paid workers their entitled housing provident fund and high temperature allowance, although they were required to work in a confined space with high temperature conditions.  

 

Upon acknowledgement of the complaints, the company began to suppress the two workers by refusing them overtime duties on weekdays, later extended such ban to weekends. The factory even sent extortion letters to their families and published their personal information with their identity card details in the factory, accusing them for working carelessly.  Undeterred by the suppression, other workers showed their solidarity support by filing their own complaints to the government office, up to 20 to 30 workers at a time.

 

The workers eventually vented their anger after the Lunar New Year. On the morning of 5 March, a worker posted an open letter next to the punch clock and cover the clock with red paper to urge her fellows to go on strike.  Initially, only 200 to 300 workers responded to the appeal while the rest continued to work on the shop-floor. But on the striking workers’ insistence, all workers eventually joined the strike in the afternoon, and hence, raised the curtain on the nine-day strike.  Workers requested 13 demands including the remunerations on social insurance, housing provident fund, and high temperature allowance.  On the next day, the management threatened the striking workers that they would be dismissed unless they resume work.

 

On 6 March, Officials from local government and the Municipal Trade Union intervened the strike, while police was sent to cordon off the factory to prohibit public entrance. Later on the evening of 11 March, investigation teams from the Labour Law Enforcement Office and Housing Department were sent to search for the Panyu Simone workers in their housing quarters in the township of Hualong. Although they claimed that such action was to show their care to workers, in fact, they true intention was to harass them and demand them to resume work.  The next day (12 March), the management was presented at the shop floor and announced that all workers will be dismissed if absence from work.

Striking workers harrassed by government officials at their homes

 

Regardless of collusion between the company and government officials in suppressing the strike, the workers were unified and well-coordinated in their actions.  Negotiations between 15 workers’ representatives started negotiation with the factory management on 6 March.  After several rounds of negotiation, a deal was struck on 14 March with the company agreeing to:

 

1. Remunerate housing provident fund before December 31 retroactively from the date of employment. If workers retired or resigned before December 31, factory would make a one-off payment;

2. Remunerate social insurance premiums by July 31. If workers retired or resigned before December 31, the factory would make a one-off payment;

3. Compensate the two workers who initiated the strike and retain their positions in the factory.

 

The result is encouraging especially for old workers who have been working for over 10 to 20 years. However, it is not easy to achieve such result. Not only did the factory management try to split the workers, government officials also attempted to intimidate the worker to stop the strike.  Workers and their representatives suffered mental stress during the nine-day strike and some of them have fallen ill because of that. The Panyu Simone’s experience illustrates that both the factory management and related government offices do not recognize collective bargaining as they still believe suppression is the only means to settle labour disputes.  Once again, it is through workers’ solidarity and persistence that labour rights can be preserved.

Workers Leader Still in Detention Despite Progress in Changchun Volkswagen Dispatch Workers Struggle

19

Jan 2018

 

After a year-long struggle, some progress was made in the dispatch workers' struggle at the Changchun FAW-Volkswagen. On December 21, the company ended its ties with the dispatch agencies and offered a five-year contract to the dispatched workers on conditions that they would forfeit their previous claims in remunerations for equal work equal pay.

In fact, as early as April 2017, Changchun FAW-Volkswagen has proposed an addition of 2,400 positions on long term basis nationwide, but only 500 of which were located in the Changchun plant. Thus, out of the 1,028 anti-dispatchment workers, about 100 workers accepted the proposal from the factory, leaving some 900 workers carried on with the struggle.  But on December 21, the aforementioned offer was put on table and the workers were only given one day by the company to accept the offer. If the workers did not sign the contract, they will be returned to their respective dispatch agencies. However, when the workers studied the relevant provisions, they found that the contract required the workers to confirm that "all the remunerations and benefits have been settled with their previous dispatch agencies”, which means that they have to relinquish all their claims and demands that they have been struggling in the past year.

 

 

However, as their contracts with their respective dispatch agencies were due to expire at the end of December 201, and at the meantime, their case was repeatedly rejected by the Jilin Provincial Court, and the workers leader Fu Tianbo was still under detention since the May 2017 protest, the workers really had their hands tied under such circumstances. In the end, all but five workers including the detained Fu Tianbo and another worker leader Ai Zhenyu signed the new contract.  The workers who did not sign the new contract were dismissed by the dispatch agencies subsequently.  Regardless of the harsh treatment, worker leader Ai Zhenyu vowed to fight till the end and will not abandon the workers who have been forced to sign the contract.

 

 

The HKCTU agrees that the incident is far from over and the workers’ reasonable demands should be met immediately.  Meanwhile, we would like to reiterate our demands as follows:

1.  Release Fu Tianbo;

2.  Remunerations for equal work equal pay;

3.  Acknowledge workers seniority from their respective dispatched agencies.

 

PC Accessories Makers Delayed Workers’ Payout Despite Receiving 177 Million for Factory Relocation

03

Jan 2018

 

In China, many people believe that the Winter Solstice Festival is even more important the Lunar New Year.  However, on the day before last year’s Winter Solstice, workers at the Shenzhen HEC factory were forced to occupy the factory to defend their rights.

 

On December 21, 2017, a strike broke out at the Taiwanese owned HEC Enterprise’s production plant in Shenzhen, a leading global manufacturer and designer of PC Cases and Power Supplies.  Earlier in October, the factory published a memo announcing that the Shenzhen production plant will be demolished and relocated to Dongguan in December.  However, until late December, the company still refused to negotiate with the workers’ representatives, while settlement on workers placements and compensations were put on hold, forcing the workers to go on strike and occupied the factory to stop the relocation.  On the same evening, the company eventually agreed to the workers’ demands on severance compensations and wage arrangements during the relocation period.

 

Workers went on strike and occupied the factory on December 21, 2017

 

In fact, according to Taiwan's Apple Daily, HEC would receive 177 million yuan in compensation for the land redevelopment project and currently has production plants in Jiangxi and Dongguang manufacturing PC power supplies, cases, and other accessories.  Moreover, the company’s gaming brand, Cougar, is also capitalizing on the eSports upsurge, and saw its turnover soared by 50% last year.  Thus, the company’s initial refusal to negotiate and compensate the workers was neither responsible nor acceptable.  And by rightfully claiming their rights, workers at HEC Shenzhen were able to avoid a miserable Winter Solstice Festival.

Workers Fights for Their Rights as Power Cords Giant Turns Factory into Real Estates Project

27

Dec 2017

 

In line with the development plan of the Chinese Government, the Taiwanese owned Linetek Electronic, a leading manufacturer of electric power cords in the world, decided to relocate one of its four major subsidiary factories, the Everfull Electronics, from Shenzhen to Huizhou.

 

Construction of the Shenzhen Metro Line 4 is next to the Everfull Longhua Factory

 

Nearly 1,000 workers in the factory, many of them are dispatched workers, have yet to receive any formal explanation regarding the relocation of factories from the management, nor have they been notified of their rights and interests.  Thus, nearly 1,000 workers went on strike on 25 and 26 November 2017, demanding the company to present written statements and initiate collective bargaining with regard to the placements of the affected workers (including all dispatched workers).

 

Everfull is a subsidiary of the Linetek Electronic

 

According to Taiwanese media reports, Linetek Electronic has partnered with Megaworld, a real estate development enterprise, to jointly develop old factories into real estate projects in Shenzhen three years ago.  The old factory area in Shenzhen is located in the center of the Megaworld’s development zone, which is also the future exit of the Shenzhen Metro Line 4 Hangqian Station.  However, instead of compensating and relocating the workers in a responsible manner, Linetek Electronics continues to disregard the workers’ demands, which led to an inevitable strike.

Thousand Went on Strike as the World’s Largest Mobile Phone Screen Producer Plans to Move

20

Dec 2017

 

More than 1000 workers went on strike at the Biel Crystal Production plant in Shenzhen

, when news of plant relocation to Huizhoun broke out earliers.  On December 7, the workers protested to the Shenzhen Longgang Municipal Office and demanded the government to intervene.

 

Biel Crystal denied the news of relocation, but at the meantime, also refused to present the workers with any written confirmation.  According to various internet sources, some workers are still on strike and demanded the employers:

 

1.  To provide written confirmation regarding plant relocation;

2.  To pay all social security and housing provident in arrear.

 

 

As the world's largest mobile phone screen producer, Biel Crystal accounted for 60% of the global screen production and two-thirds of IPhone screen production share. Production bases are located in Shenzhen and Huizhou to establish, with a total annual output value of 30 billion yuan.

 

Despite denying plant relocation, the management continues to push for "relocations packages" and encouraged workers to voluntarily relocate to the Huizhou plant

 

Yeung Kin-Man and his wife, the founders of Biel Crystal, are native Hong Kong capitalists who rank eighth in the 2017 Forbes’ Hong Kong Rich List.  Regardless of their wealth, the employers expose their irresponsibility in misconducts such as indifference to the demands of the workers in Shenzhen, suspicion to concealing the news of relocation and evading responsibilities in social security and housing provident fund.

 

Civil Society in Hong Kong Protest Against the Eviction of the Urban Poor in Beijing

01

Dec 2017

 

While the Beijing Municipal Government was busy evicting the so-called “low-end population” in the city, there was another “high-end seminar” in the name of “Beijing Hong Kong Economic Cooperation Symposium” taking place in Hong Kong while the Mayor of Beijing, Chen Jining, was presented at the opening ceremony.  Thus, the HKCTU, in collaboration with some other 40 members of the civil society took the opportunity to voice out our concerns by staging a protest at the Symposium (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre) on Nov 29 and demanded the Beijing Municipal Government to stop all evictions of the urban poor immediately.

 

 

However, what makes us even angrier is the undemocratic urban planning and demographic policies behind the eviction. Once again, the eviction highlights a handful of authorities and capitalists’ blatant disregard of basic labour rights by treating the migrant workers as “disposable ones", despite their contributions to the prosperity of the city. Although the police blocked our way of expressing our demands to the elites inside the venue, it still did not impede us from condemning their indifference to labour dignity.

 

 

Apart from civil society organizations in Hong Kong, a number of trade unionists from France and Brazil also participated in the protest to show that there is no boundary to workers solidarity. In the meantime, our public statement cosignatory will be continued. Organizations are welcome to sign up online at the following website: https://goo.gl/JtQ6Gk

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