The development of the labour dispute in Mizutani (Shenzhen) Toy Factory Co. Ltd.
Mid 2014, the employer moved some machinery to its branch in the Philippines. Workers put out a notice, asking the enterprise to explain such a move but it was ignored.
Since October 2014, workers have been not required to work overtimes. Their monthly wages was 1,808 yuan and after deducting social insurance premiums, the income became very low. The less senior workers left the factory and the factory did not recruit new workers to replace them.
In the afternoon of 16 January 2015, workers launched a strike. At that time, their boss was not in China. Mr Mizutani negotiated with workers between 20 Jan and 22 Jan. He went missing again on 22 Jan.
On 24 January, the enterprise put out a notice, calling for a negotiation between workers and a consultancy, which represented the enterprise, on 26 Jan.
On 26 January, the negotiation failed and the enterprise posted a notice, demanding the workers to resume working before 30 Jan or they would be dismissed “for absenteeism” without compensation.
On 30 January, a new round of negotiation reached mutual agreement.
On 31 January, workers resumed working
On 1 February, the workers' representatives received a notice by fax, informing them that the compensation of each year’s services would be 1,000 yuan. The representatives did not believe that such a reply was coming from their boss. Some stated their objections and demanded the yearly compensation to be 1,808 yuan (the legal minimum wages). They signed and faxed their feedback to mr Mizutani.
On 2 February, other workers read the notice in the factory and were outraged. They protested in the streets outside the factory complex. Within minutes, police forced workers to return to the factory and detained 15 people on spot. Later the police detained another 6 people in the factory, including women workers who were injured in the clashes. A total of 21 workers were detained. Workers were forced by the police to delete all the photos they had taken.
At 2.30pm, the Japanese employer announced through an internet meeting, that he could only compensate workers their severance compensation on the basis of 300 yuan per year of services. He later offered 500 yuan compensation per year of services but demanded workers to resign and a clear-cut termination of their labour relations.
15 workers were released that evening, but the 6 workers who had been detained in the factory were held in custody.
On 3 February, one worker was released in the morning while the other 5 were administratively detained for 5 days. The labour bureau threatened workers that if they would not return to work the next day, the 5 workers would be detained for even longer. Workers could not stop the shipment that afternoon and to speed up the release of the 5 workers, they agreed to resume working the next day.
In April, workers wrote a joint-petition to complain about forced dismissal. The Walt Disney sent a facilitator to come up with an agreement with the enterprise.
At 5pm, 18 June, the enterprise announced its closure, quoting business difficulties. It demanded workers to sign an agreement to terminate their labour relations by 12 noon the next day. The agreement claimed it was achieved on the basis of “unanimity through consultation”. Workers were also asked to move out from their dormitory before 23 June.
On 19 June, workers' protest was in vain. All workers signed the agreement to terminate their labour relations. They identified some problems after receiving the severance payment. Workers' representatives collected and compiled the workers' demands and labour organization called for Disney's intervention.
On 17 July, a Hong Kong NGO, Disney and Mizutani held a meeting.
On 5 August, Disney replied that it had found workers' demands groundless after its investigation.
7 August, Mizutani workers wrote to Disney, demanding it to compensate them on behalf of Mizutani, as follows:
1. Mizutani unilaterally terminated workers’ labour contracts. Legally speaking, it should pay a double-severance compensation and Disney should pay for the missing part of the compensation;
2. Mizutani closed the factory down without giving an one-month written notice prior closure, thus, it should compensate its workers one month’s wages;
3. Compensation should be calculated by wages payable (currently, the one month’s wages compensation is calculated by the average wages payable of the past 12 months, between June 2014 and May 2015), instead of the actual wages.
4. The missing premiums of workers’ social security insurance since their dates of commencement.
5. The missing contribution of workers’ housing provident fund since their dates of commencement.