Labour News

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

Workers Victims of the Largest Bankruptcy in China Fighting for their Rights for 14 Years

23

Oct 2017

 

During the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, nearly 300 former employees of the Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corporation (GITIC) protested at the company’s headquarter in Guangzhou on 12 October, demanding the payment of compensations which was promised by the company more than a decade ago.  The rights defending actions of these workers lasted for more than ten years, some took turns to protest at GITIC during their day offs hopeful that their compensations would be repaid one day.

 

These workers worked at GITIC some 20 years ago in the logistics services (such as cleaning, security).  They maintained their positions during GITIC’s bankruptcy proceedings, as the company promised that all compensations would be paid to the workers without prejudice once the bankruptcy proceedings and the sale of the company’s assets were completed.  However, such promise has yet to be fulfilled until now.

 

GITIC was established in July 1980 and under the approval of the People's Bank of China, GITIC became a non-bank financial institutions in 1983.  At that time, GITIC was a state approved local-level “window company” that allowed foreign loans and bonds which was only second to CITIC in size.  However, GITIC went into liquidation due to excessive debts in 1999, and applied for bankruptcy to the court together with its three subsidiaries.  When the bankruptcy proceedings completed in 2003, the court presided over the sale of the company’s assets that lasted for more than a decade.  Finally in June this year, all assets of GITIC were purchased by China Vanke at the price of RMB 55.1 billion.  The liquidation of GITIC was coined as the largest bankruptcy case in China and generated much attentions in China as well as the international financial community.

 

Despite the GITIC bankruptcy case is finally settled, the logistics workers who devoted so much to the company have yet to receive any reasonable compensation that was once promised by the company.  Is this the “China Model” that has been long lauded by the leadership of Xi Jinping?  And is this the choice for humankind that is built upon workers scarifications and deceptions?


Labour Activists Meng Han Arrested Again

22

Sep 2017

 

Guangdong labour activist, Meng Han, is again taken away by the authorities today (22/9) after being released from prison just earlier this month.  According to reports, 8 policemen from the Guangzhou Nansha Jinzhou Police Station took away Meng Han from his apartment at around 2:30 p.m.  Although the cause of his arrest has yet to be confirmed, but it is believed that it is related to the publication of his “Prison Notebooks” posted on his own blog, which is now deleted by the officials.

 

In his “Notebooks”, Meng recollects his experiences in organizing the Lide Strike of 2014, which led to his subsequently arrest and imprisonment.  He also expressed his views on the labour movement and his will to fight for workers' rights in China.  Thus, the HKCTU is astounded to learn that the Chinese Government again arrested Meng Han for a crime he never commits and demands the immediate release of him.

 

Updated on 26/9:

After about 6 hours of detention at the local police station, Meng was later released on the same night. The Police alleged that his arrest was due to his release of "Prison Notebooks".  Meng was slightly injured in a bust-up with the police.

 

  

Factory “Shammed” Bankruptcy, 300 Electronics Factory Workers Went on Strike in Shenzhen

20

Sep 2017

 

Last month (August 2017), more than 300 workers from the Shenzhen mobile phone motherboard manufacturer, Jielai Technology Co., Ltd. went on strike to recover back wages from the month of June, but the company suddenly announced bankruptcy in 29 August. Hence, the worker escalated their actions. In addition to recover outstanding wages, they also demanded for statutory severance payment, and guarded the factory to prevent transfer of assets by the company.

 

The Jielai workers criticized the bankruptcy is of "malicious" intent because the employer has already set up factories in Yunnan, Chongqing and Zhengzhou and more than half of the production lines in Shenzhen have moved to these plants ever since. Moreover, Jielai were not lacking in orders from their major customer, "Waterworth", an up and coming mobile phone company founded in 2009. Therefore, the workers believed that the employer “shammed” the bankruptcy to hide the real intention in plant relocation in order to evade paying the workers severance payments.

 

On 4 September, the court seized the assets of the employer and forced the employer to negotiate with the workers. A settlement was eventually reached with the employer promised to pay all the wages in arrears and 60% of the statutory severance payments.

 

 

In order to reduce labor costs, many manufacturers in the Pearl River Delta Region are transferring productions to further inland in recent years. But some unscrupulous employers have tried to avoid payments of severance for workers in the past, which is similar to that of the Hong Kong's catering industry some ten years ago. After dissolving one restaurant, some restaurant owners continued to operate other restaurants under separate company registrations, leaving severance payment for workers eventually paid off by the "Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund" (the Fund). In 2012, a restaurant owner was sentenced to three years' of imprisonment after found guilty in fraud of the Fund. Therefore, if local governments in China do not face up to this problem by severely punishing employers that “sham” bankruptcies, it is likely that similar incidents will continue to occur.

Tough Guy Meng Han is Released from Prison

05

Sep 2017

 

On September 3, after 21 months of imprisonment, labour activist Meng Han is set free again.

 

Since Xi Jinping came to power, Chinese civil society and activists are experiencing a very difficult period.  Earlier this year, the treatment and death of Liu Xiaobo shocked the world.  But almost at the same time, rights defending lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, who has been beaten on a number of occasions was forced to plead guilty and sentenced.  Thus, it is not surprising that even the toughest guys fell one after another to the terrors of torture and threats to their love ones. A year ago in Guangdong, there was another tough guy who was forced to plead guilty to a crime he never committed, he name is Meng Han.

 

In 2013, Meng participated in a collective labour action with other security guards in the No.1 Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and was elected as the “chief representative” in the negotiation with the management. However, he was then dismissed and along with 17 other workers, he was sentenced to nine-month imprisonment on charges of “Inciting a crowd to disrupt public order”. At his defence speech in court, he insisted, “As a worker in contemporary China, I would prefer to spend the rest of my life in prison if the rights to decent work is deprived,” and after his release, he proclaimed, “the government must stop its abuse of power to suppress labour rights defending, and we must sacrifice for the cause of rights defending.  I am prepared for this sacrifice.”

 

Upon his release, Meng Han joined the Panyu Migrant Workers Services Centre to continue his fight for labour rights and successfully helped more than 3,000 workers in defending their rights in the Guangzhou Lide Shoe Factory Strike.  However, what lay ahead of him was another arrest and prosecution.  On December 3, 2017, he was one of the 27 labour activists in Guangzhou being arrested and detained.  And among the four who were later sentenced, Meng Han was the last one to be trailed because he was the most "troubled" one.  After his arrest, Meng said, "As my case is not going to be resolved in the near future, I have no intention to compromise with them (the officials) on my conscience and morality." "In this case, I have a clear conscience."  In fact, Meng Han’s determination remained resolute until his parents were intimidated, his companions were under surveillance and loved one was harassed.  Meng was forced to compromise and pleaded guilty and was finally sentenced to 21 months in prison.  But this would not tarnish our respect for him, nor would it tarnish his image as a labour rights defender.

We Are Sold As “Pigs”—A Testimony of A Chinese Migrant Worker Under The “Belt and Road” Initiative

03

Sep 2017

 

As a top Chinese national policy, the "Belt and Road" Initiative is not only exporting capital, technology, and labour on a large scale, but also transplanting common labour disputes of domestic enterprises to overseas in recent years. In an article published on August 24, "Voice of America" interviewed a Chinese migrant worker working in Africa, Li Dong (pseudonym), who witnesses the hardships endured by overseas Chinese migrant workers.

 

Motivated by the ideals to "achieve something big in a foreign country under the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative” university graduate Li Dong, followed the state-owned enterprise Energy China Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau (GHCB) to work in Angola one year ago. But unfortunately, contrary to his ideals, there is a world of difference in reality.

 

During the year working for GHCB, Li Dong only received his pay cheque once and it only accounted to 40% of the normal salary as stated in his employment contract. Li further testifies that workers are forced to work 12 hours a day with no overtime pay and only allowed one rest day every two weeks. Days off are not given neither on Chinese nor local holidays, except two days of holidays on Chinese New Year. Moreover, the GHCB also refuses to pay medical insurance on the grounds that the company has bought overseas accident insurance for the employees, which no one has ever seen the policy. And cases of arrears of wages are common despite GHCB is a state owned enterprise. For instance, Li Dong reveals that he heard some workers organized protest after they have not been paid for more three years, and although they were able to recover their wages, all workers who participated in the protest were eventually repatriated.

 

In addition to long hours and intensive workloads, personal safety of the workers are also constantly under threat. Chinese are often targeted in a number of robberies or killings since the end of the Angolan civil war in 2002. Thus, the company prohibits employees from leaving their quarters after work, which makes little difference from living in a prison. Nevertheless, some workers are still robbed on working sites, while all losses must be borne by the workers themselves.

 

Despite feeling "disappointed, angry, and want to resign", Li Dong plans to continue to work in Angola for another half a year. Because the company will not reimburse the air fare and visa fee until one year and half of employment.

 

"We are like the pigs in the past and being exploited here," says Li Dong, referring to the Chinese labourers who had signed slave contracts to work as coolie overseas during the turn of 20th Century, "the difference is that instead of the white people of past, the exploiters nowadays are the state-owned enterprises.”

 

Source: Voice of America

 1 2 3 >  Last ›