Labour News

Labour Activist Meng Han Unjustly Sentenced to 21 months in Prison


Nov 2016


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


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



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


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


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

Detained Guangdong Labour Activists Sentenced


Sep 2016

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



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



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

Shame on Fast Retailing’s Union Busting in Cambodian


Sep 2016

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




We therefore strongly urge Fast Retailing to:


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


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


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


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


Jul 2016



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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


Jun 2016


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


The following is a statement issued by the Alliance:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Condolences for Wangyang!  Demand for Truth Until the End!


Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China


6th of June, 2016



Postcards Sent to Support Detained Labour Activists


May 2016


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

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

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

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


Apr 2016

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


33% salary deducted!


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


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



Daily Salary

Basic Salary

Weekday OT

Weekday OT





















Wage Difference



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


No pension at all!


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


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


No Pregnancy Insurance, Having only basic income during pregnancy leave


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


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


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


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


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


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

Postcard Campaign to Support the Chinese Labour Activists


Apr 2016


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


If you are in Hong Kong:

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


If you are outside of Hong Kong

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


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


Apr 2016


The photo was taken on the released day (7 April 2016). HE held his daughter on his arm, his wife is on the sofa. (Photos from -


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


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


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


Threat against Meng Han’s family

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


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

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


Zeng Feiyang’s condition is unknown

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


The background of the above crackdown

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


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

China Details Accusations Against Detained Labor Activists


Dec 2015


Dec. 22, 2015 1:03 p.m. ET


BEIJING—Authorities outlined allegations against seven labor activists detained earlier this month, claiming they used advocacy as a cover to disturb public order and violate workers’ rights, state media said.


In a lengthy report late Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency detailed police allegations against Zeng Feiyang and six others, who were detained in Guangdong province during what scholars and rights advocates have condemned as a crackdown on labor activism.


Mr. Zeng and his associates, according to Xinhua, have “long received financial assistance from overseas while intervening in domestic labor disputes, gravely disturbing public order and severely trampling upon workers’ interests.”


Xinhua said Mr. Zeng was also accused of fraud, adultery and embezzlement, saying the 41-year-old activist had used his labor nonprofit—the Guangzhou-based Panyu Migrant Workers Center—to enrich himself by funneling funds from foreign donors into his own bank account.


Xinhua didn’t name Mr. Zeng’s foreign donors. Activists say China Labour Bulletin—a Hong Kong-based watchdog—has been a source of funding for Mr. Zeng’s nonprofit, though the scale and timing of the donations weren’t clear. A spokesman for China Labour Bulletin declined to comment on the matter.


The Xinhua report cited interviews with police, workers and the detained activists themselves, though the agency quoted only one of the activists, Tang Huanxing, whom it said had offered a confession.


Xinhua said the seven activists—six men and a woman—have been placed under “criminal coercive measures,” which is a form of detention that typically precedes prosecution.


Mr. Zeng and a co-worker, Zhu Xiaomei, were accused of “assembling crowds to disturb public order” when they were detained early this month, according to their associates. He Xiaobo, a 40-year-old activist in the city of Foshan, was detained over alleged embezzlement, his wife said. It wasn’t clear what precise allegations have been made against the other four activists.


None of the seven could be reached for comment. Their lawyers and relatives say they haven’t been able to arrange meetings with the detained activists, despite several attempts over the past three weeks.


Scholars and rights advocates decried the allegations against Mr. Zeng and his associates, characterizing the Xinhua report as a smear campaign. They also criticized the detentions, saying it signals Beijing’s growing anxiety over a rise in worker unrest prompted by slowing economic growth.


The crackdown, scholars say, also dovetailed Beijing’s growing repression of civil-society groups, heightened monitoring of social media, and sharpened warnings against the spread of Western ideas and influences.


“The direction of Xi Jinping’s policy has been quite clear from the start: Push the [official trade unions] to become more capable of managing workers, while steadily reducing the space for grass roots NGOs, labor scholars and labor lawyers to operate,” said Ellen Friedman, a retired American trade unionist who has collaborated on labor research with mainland academics and activists.


China Labour Bulletin counted more than 2,600 strikes and labor protests on the mainland so far this year, far surpassing the 1,379 incidents recorded in the whole of 2014. Many of these protests took place in Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta region, fueled by unpaid wages and factory closures in the sprawling industrial zone that produces more than a quarter of China’s exports.


Scholars say the crackdown appeared to target veteran advocates who focused on advising workers on how to negotiate collectively during workplace disputes. The practice is sensitive in China, where state-run unions are the only legal form of organized labor, though workers say official trade unions often don’t represent their interests and side with businesses during disputes.


Mr. Zeng’s NGO is among a number of Guangdong-based nonprofits that promoted collective bargaining. In its Tuesday report, Xinhua cited workers’ representa

10:51:02 AM

tives in a recent shoe factory dispute as accusing Mr. Zeng and his associates of manipulating workers by encouraging them to go on strike and make “unrealistic demands” in negotiations with employers. These tactics, according to Xinhua, had put workers’ safety and financial interests at risk.


In its crackdown this month, Guangdong police also interrogated more than 20 other activists, according to those questioned. Many of them said they were asked about Mr. Zeng, his associates and their activities. Ms. Friedman, the retired American unionist, said police in Guangzhou interrogated her on Dec. 11 during a recent trip there, posing questions about her work in China, her relationship with local labor activists and academics, among other issues.


“The detentions have caused a climate of fear,” said Tim Pringle, a China labor scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “Removing people who know how to provide assistance to workers, and intimidating other NGOs as well as workers in the process, is more likely to increase the probability of social disorder rather than reduce it.”


Activists said Xinhua’s report marked the latest effort by Chinese authorities to shape public opinion on politically sensitive cases, by presenting what appeared to be a definitive conclusion on the cases before the completion of legal proceedings.


In July, state media reports portrayed a Beijing-based law firm as a criminal gang and featured what it said were confessions by the accused lawyers, who were detained amid a broad sweep against human-rights lawyers.


Write to Chun Han Wong at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Original source: Wall Street Journal

Update as of the 5th December 2015 on the Chinese detained labor NGO activists


Dec 2015

21 labor activists arrested by police, 3 under criminal detention, 4 could not be reached


According to reliable sources obtained by Red Balloon, as of the 5th December 2015, altogether 21 labor activists were arrested by the police. Three of them are right now under criminal detention. 14 of them were released after inquisition. Another four labor activists cannot be reached. In addition, 6 family members of the labor activists have been approached and questioned by the police.


The update situation of the detained labor activists is as of the followings.


1. Zeng Feiyang* from Panyu Migrant Workers Documentation Centre has been under criminal detention, being charged of “mobbing and disrupting social order”. (a) His wife, parents and the eldest brother were under inquisition by the police. (b) On the evening of 4 Dec, Tang Jian (whose online nickname is Beiguo), worked previously in the Panyu Migrant Workers Documentation Centre, was arrested in Beijing and cannot be reached since then. (c) Wang  Sanmu was ordered to go to the police station and was released on the afternoon of 4 Dec. (d) He Minghui, who worked in Pegasus Group (a shoe manufacturer) and is a volunteer of the Panyu Migrant Workers Documentation Centre, was under the police’ inquisition and was released. (e) Some workers heard that the police was looking for Xiao Jin from the Centre’s Zhongshan office.

2. Zhu Xiaomei* from Panyu Migrant Workers Documentation Centre are still under criminal detention due to the charge of “mobbing and disrupting social order”. She has two kids; the youngest child is one year old and has been relying on breastfeeding.

3. He Xiaobo* from Nanfeiyan has been detained due to the charge of “financial embezzlement”. His wife has been ordered not to use social media to publicize the case.

4. Peng Jiayong* of Panyu-based Laborer Mutual Aid Group was arrested on 3 Dec and has not been released.

5. Chen Huihai, the director of Guangzhou Haige Workers’ Services Centre (previously the workers’ training department of Guangdong Laowai Law Firm) was arrested on 3 Dec. The police had kept him in a hotel room for inquisition. Deng Xiaoming* and Meng Han* were taken away for investigation and have not been released. The Service Centre’s staff Bin Xue and He Bing, two workers associated with the Center Huang Dongmei and Cheng Neng Wen were questioned on 3 Dec and were released.

6. Luo Hongmei and Zou Jiajun of Sunflower Women Workers Centre were arrested on 3 Dec and were released on 4 Dec.

*refers to those activists that cannot be reached, are still under detention or officially charged by the police.

Directors went missing: NGOs under attack due to assisting workers affected by factory closures


Dec 2015

Stand News, 4 December 2015

Photo Caption: Chen Huihai spoke of “remedies for workers’ representatives under suppression” at a conference on protective mechanisms for workers’ representatives. He elaborates that what his services centre could interfere when a workers’ representative has been under attack, which include joniing workers’ voices to demand release at the police station, informing and comforting the representative’s family, appointing a lawyer to meet the representative, seeking help from media and etc. (Source: from the blog of Haige Workers’ Services Centre)


Many labour rights NGOs in Guangdong Province have suddenly been “raided” by police recently. Some of the directors of these NGOs went missing and at the time of writing, their whereabouts remain unknown. Director of Haige Workers’ Services Centre, Chen Huihai had told the media that these abductions meant to suppress the labour NGOs and were led by the municipal police, before he lost contacts with the media.

Safeguarding workers’ rights intensified their conflicts with local governments

According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a new wave of detentions targeting labour NGOs in Guangdong, after the detention of Liu Shaoming, a labour rights activist in Guangdong on 30 May, has started. In recent years, the frequent factory closures in Guangdong have forced a vast number of workers to join the army of “rights defenders”.  Labour NGOs, whose mandate is to assist workers, provide them legal advice in tripartite negotiations between workers, employers and governments, have been involved in more and more conflicts with local governments.

As reported by Radio Free Asia, in the morning of December 3, numerous police officers came to Haige Workers’ Services Centre (previously the workers’ training department of Guangdong Laowai Law Firm) in Panyu District of Guangzhou City and took away  the centre’s staff Bin Xue and He Bing, two visiting workers Huang Dongmei and Cheng Neng Wen. Another staff, Deng Xiaoming was also captured when he returned to the office.

Many remain missing

At the same time, directors and staff members of Panyu Migrant Workers Documentation Centre and Sunflower Women Workers Center, Zeng Feiyang, Zhu Xiaomei, Luo Hongmei and Peng Jiayong also lost contacts with others. Reporter at Radio Free Asia contacted Chen Feihai at about 2pm on December 3. Chen was hiding in a hotel but expecting the police would detain him soon. He described that since November, his right to leave the country had been restricted and he believed this crackdown would be targeting all labour NGOs.

“I got it confirmed half hour ago. They (the police) are expanding the seizure to all. Staff members of all our four offices were under surveillance. Today I went to gather some business information from the district government. Luckily I am not yet captured. But I guess I can’t walk far before they catch me. I am hiding in a hotel but with their surveillance facilities, I can’t escape. They have just made it clear that they would detain me, saying ‘you don’t need to run because you can’t’.”


“Financial Embezzlement” as the reason for detention

An hour later, when the reporter tried to call Chen Huihai again and found his phone was off. He called again the Fuhua Police Station and an officer confirmed that Bin Xue and others were kept in the police station. Yet, s/he refused to give the reasons of the detentions or comment when they would be released, and later reflected that police station was not in charge of these detentions and suggested the reporter to contact criminal police or the state security teams.

Radio Free China later reported that four detainees from Haige Workers’ Services Centres were released, after giving testimonies at the Fuhua Police Station. However, the others remain unheard. Simultaneously, He Xiaobo, director of another labour NGO Nan Feiyan in Fushan City was forcibly abducted by the police, for a so-called charge of “financial embezzlement”.

Sources: Radio Free Asia, Chinese Human Rights Defenders and BBC Chinese site 

The story of Artigas worker representative Wu Weifa


Nov 2015

Due participation in the industrial action, Artigas factory prohibited Workers’ representative Wu Weifa (the middle one) from accessing the factory on 9 June after dismissing her from her position.


Wu Weifa is a typical woman from rural China:  uneducated and illiterate.  If it wasn't because of the Reformation, the nearby town might have been the fartherest place she had traveled.


Due to poverty, she became one of the hundreds of millions migrant workers who flooded into big cities in search for jobs.  Shenzhen, as foreign as it can be, has become the home of Wu Weifa for more than 20 years,


When she first started working at the Artigas Leatherware Factory (UNIQLO's supplier), she did not expect to work there for more than 20 years.  Nor could she foresee she would be dismissed, arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for supporting workers' rights.  All she was looking forward to was a just and rightful retirement pension in exchange for her 20 years-long service.


When she turned 50 years old in 2013, although Wu has reached the statutory retirement age in China and worked for Artigas for more than 20 years, she was not entitled to any pension benefit.  As a means to save cost, her company just started to make contribution to her Social Security only a few years ago, which was a common practice among many corporate in the Pearl RiverDelta Region.  Thus, she could only remain at the factory on a rolling contract, which was not covered by the labour law since she has passed retirement age.  Thus, she participated in the strike in December, 2014 to fight for all her Social Security and Housing Compensation in arrears.  However, the management only employed delay tactics and refuse to follow up on the issue.


Due her participation in the industrial action, the factory prohibited Wu Weifa from accessing the factory and dismissed her from her position.  The dismissal triggered more than a thousand workers to go on strike in support of her.  Not only the company did not explain the reasons for her sudden dismissal, they even collaborated with the local police force and arrested Wu.  The workers carried on with the strike for almost two months until it was eventually crackdown by the local police force.  The police held Wu Weifa as hostage and intimidated the workers' representatives to resign from the company and ultimately forced the workers to give in.  Wu Weifa was later prosecuted of “Obstructing Public Affairs” and imprisoned until October 8. 


After this incident, Wu Weifa was physically and mentally fatigued.  However, there there're are many more Wu Weifa's in China.

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