Labour News

New development of the case of Artigas

02

Jun 2015

Artigas workers issue an invitation letter to employer, calling for collective negotiation to resolve problems of the factory’s relocation in the near future

 

Background

Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Company is a Hong Kong-invested garment factory, specified in the production of shirts. Its workforce is about some 800 workers and is located in No.2 Industrial Zone, Guanlan Town of Shenzhen City, China.

On 10 December 2014, it was reported that the factory would relocate. Some senior workers who had served the factory for over 10 years, realized that the employer had only contributed 4 to 5 years of their pension premiums, which would leave them not entitled to pension when they retire. Together with the missing housing provident funds, deduction of overtime wages, some 800 workers decided to launch a strike to safeguard their rights. On the 8th day of the strike, some 200 workers were violently cracked down by the police, numerous workers were assaulted, they fainted, injured and got fractures. Police detained some 20 people, including bystanders on the street. Workers were forced to resume working after the crackdown. Since then, the factory seldom assigned workers to work overtimes, which led to the problem of lower incomes. Younger workers decided to resign but some senior workers felt unwilling to leave without being properly compensated.

On 2 June 2015, workers at Artigas elected their representatives from each department and representatives to conduct collective negotiation. They are determined to defend their rights and issued an invitation to the employer, demanding to start a collective negotiation.

 

 

Full text of the invitation letter

2 June 2015

 

Dear management of Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Company,

We are the workers of Artigas. Acting in the spirit of the Party Central Committee and related legislation and regulations, we are now inviting you to collectively negotiate, regarding the enterprise’s relocation, changes on labour relations and employment terms, and many previous labour violations. We hope that you would appoint your representative(s), arrange time and location, to conduct a collective negotiation with workers in good faith and address the workers’ demands responsibly, as follows:

 

1. to repay the missing pension premiums into the social security system, dating back to the commencement of their employment;

2. to repay workers the overtimes wages which had been deducted since the commencement of their employment;

3. to repay the missing high temperature subsidy since the commencement of their employment;

4. to compensate workers, in terms of wages, the paid annual leave which they are entitled to but were not given;

5. to clarify the arrangement of relocation with workers and define the compensation arising from the changes of labour relations;

6. other collective demands which workers are concerned about.

 

We have elected workers’ representatives from each department and our representatives for the collective negotiation; appointed Guangdong Laowei Law Firm as our consultant during the negotiation process and hope to resolve the above-mentioned demands and safeguard our lawful rights through effective collective negotiation. The above demands are derived from facts, namely, the company’s long-tem labour violations. We hope, instead of intensifying our conflicts and acting against a peaceful solution, you would show us at least some sincerity and live up your so-called corporate social responsibility.

 

We expect a clear written reply from you, appointing enterprise’s representative(s) who can truly represent the enterprise and arrange a concrete date and location to negotiate with workers in good faith.   

 

Yours sincerely,

Workers’ representatives of Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Company

Labour Rights Violations and Crack down of strike at New An Lun Lamp (Shenzhen) Co.,Ltd. in China

13

May 2015

Labour Rights Violations and Strike in New An Lun Lamp (Shenzhen) Co.,Ltd. in Guangdong Province, China

Violations on labour rights

The workers had no long tolerate severe violations of labour conditions by New An Lun Lamp (Shenzhen) Company Limited in China. New An Lun Lamp (Shenzhen) Company Limited is a supplier producing bicycle light products in China. The mother company is Milltech International corp, which is a Taiwanese capital. The owner is Wang Zhi Gong.

The factory has severely violated the Chinese labour law and social insurance policies; they have not contributed the pension and housing provident fund to the workers which are mandatory according to the laws. 

Moreover, workers have not been paid for sick leave, maternity leave, work Injury leave and marriage leave which they are entitled to. The factory has just started to pay for workers’ annual leaves from 2011. Workers are requested to report duty 10 minutes earlier in morning and after lunch time without being paid for overtime allowances. According to the labour law, the workers working in high temperature workplace are also entitled to high temperature allowance.

Violations on the Occupational Safety and Health
 

The factory has not provided safety equipment for the workers and has not arranged any medical check-ups for the workers. Even worse, the factory only opens one washroom for 80 workers and limits the time of usage out of the convenience of management.

The workers sent a complain letter to the management in mid-April but the management only agreed with opening more washroom for the workers but refused to meet other demands. For paying back the unpaid allowances mentioned above, the factory can offer payback for 2 years only. In the process, the employer did not negotiate with the workers and only replied them with a notice.

The workers were dissatisfied with the response and started to strike on April 28, the government departments had showed up but did nothing to help the workers. The workers have been on strike for 13 days to demand for negotiation with the boss. On 11 May, the employer even sent thrugs to attack workers and tried to transport away the finished goods in the factory. Some workers were injured in the conflict.

Ongoing struggles and strike action facing violent assults

The workers staged on strike before May Day and they are still going on their struggles regardless various forms of oppressions from the employers, gangsters and police. Many workers were injured on May 11 when there were a group of gangster coming to the factory plant to attack the striking workers. Some strikers were even forced to knee down to the employers.

 On May 13 morning, policemen broke into the factory plant to arrest 9 workers and the factory immediately dismissed 6 workers' representatives. The 9 workers were arrested under criminal charges and they were still detained at the police station. Many of their co-workers gathered outside the police station to demand for release of them.

New draft of China’s national security law for first time highlights Hong Kong’s responsibilities

11

May 2015

Proposed new version of the country's national security legislation highlights city's obligations on the controversial issue for the first time

Beijing has for the first time highlighted Hong Kong's obligations under a new draft of the country's national security law, raising the prospect of renewed pressure on the city to get moving on its own relevant legislation.

The draft bill, published online yesterday, makes it clear that Hong Kong must do its part.

Article 11 of the draft states: "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. Safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, including people in Hong Kong and Macau as well as Taiwan."

Article 36 goes on to say: "The Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong and the Special Administrative Region of Macau must fulfil their responsibility to safeguard national security."

The full draft, which is up for public consultation until June 5, will be scrutinised by the National People's Congress next March at the earliest.

While legal experts doubt that China's national security legislation can be directly enforced here, local commentators and politicians see the unprecedented reference to Hong Kong as a clear signal Beijing wants the city to stop dragging its feet on drawing up its own legislation to ban acts of "treason, secession, sedition or subversion", as stipulated under Article 23 of the Basic Law.

It will be a tough sell to the public, judging by mass protests sparked by the last attempt in 2003 that led to the early resignation of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. Many in Hong Kong feared their rights and freedoms would be curtailed back then, and they continue to treat any talk of national security legislation with suspicion.

But pro-Beijing politicians say it's time to get moving on the highly controversial issue.

"There is no excuse for us not to fulfil our constitutional responsibility when our country has already enacted its own national security law," said trade unionist Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC. Ng triggered a storm in January by suggesting the mainland's national security law should be enforced directly in Hong Kong.

Legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a legal academic who specialises in China law, said the draft was a warning to Hong Kong over the lack of progress on the issue.

Professor Michael Davis, a constitutional law expert at the University of Hong Kong, said the mainland law could not be applied in the city unless it was added to Annex III of the Basic Law. However, Article 18 of the Basic Law does allow Beijing to apply national laws directly to the city under extreme situations such as a state of emergency in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong already has many relevant laws to protect national security even without the legislation of article 23, Davis said.

If an "attempt to apply mainland national security law to Hong Kong were made, it could pose serious problems respecting human rights, as the mainland law would likely not be protective of basic rights guaranteed in Hong Kong," he said.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said yesterday he had not heard of any intention by Beijing to amend Annex III.

Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said the move was a declaration of intent by Beijing. He said: "Hongkongers should be cautious and not give Beijing any excuse to push for the legislation … by advocating independence".

The country's first national security law, which took effect in 1993, did not touch on Hong Kong. It was renamed the Counter-espionage Law last year.

 
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 11:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 11:59am

 

 

 
 
China Labor Ties Fray as Grievances Rise, Economic Growth Slows

09

Feb 2015

Guangzhou Research Center’s Sudden Closure Fuels Concerns About Industrial Relations in China

GUANGZHOU, China—For four years, a labor-research center here in the heart of China’s southern manufacturing belt helped to drive scholarship and debate on industrial relations in the world’s second-largest economy.
By CHUN HAN WONG

Feb. 9, 2015 7:37 p.m. ET

 

Then late last year, the International Center for Joint Labor Research, the first institute of its kind in China, was shut down, with little warning or explanation, people familiar with the situation said.

Its demise has alarmed labor experts, including some union officials, who see it as a setback for industrial relations just as China is dealing with rising worker grievances and 
slowing economic growth.

The center—jointly established by the University of California, Berkeley, and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou City—sat on the front lines of labor tensions. Its experts delved into collective bargaining, dispute resolution and union rules. It kept contact with activists, multinationals and with officials in the government-backed trade unions federation—the only unions China allows, though many workers say they don’t represent their interests.

Problems have been most pronounced in the Pearl River Delta region around Guangzhou, a sprawling industrial slice of Guangdong province north of Hong Kong, that produces more than a quarter of China’s exports. It is also one of the country’s most strike-prone regions, where authorities have clamped down on industrial unrest over the past year, labor researchers and activists say.

“The overall situation in Guangdong isn’t well. Things are somewhat tense,” said Meng Quan, a labor scholar at the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing.

In Guangdong, instances of strikes rose by nearly a quarter to 301 last year compared with the preceding year, according to data collated by China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based watchdog. Strike occurrences across China, meanwhile, more than doubled in 2014 to 1,378, the data showed.

During a recent strike at Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Co., a garment factory that supplies Japanese casual-wear brand Uniqlo and others, police entered the plant to force more than 100 workers to return to their jobs, breaking from past police practice of staying outside the premises, according to activists involved in that strike.

Phone calls to Shenzhen Artigas went unanswered, while Fast Retailing Co. , owner of the Uniqlo chain, said it is urging the factory to conclude talks with workers as soon as possible. Guangdong police didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Reports of such intrusive police tactics have grown more common as authorities try to head off labor unrest as the economy slows. “Police suppression of labor protests have become more frequent, and their tactics more aggressive,” said a retired trade union official in Guangzhou. “They are worried about rising industrial unrest, particularly in the context of slowing economic growth.”

Beyond concerns about industrial tensions, the closing of the labor-research center comes as Chinese leaders are trying to limit foreign funding of public-interest and other activist groups. The aim, some analysts say, is to prevent the type of social ferment that led to revolutions against authoritarian governments in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“There has also been a tightening in the political environment, which has manifested in growing wariness against foreign influences in Chinese academia and civil society,” said Mr. Meng, the Beijing academic. In closing down the center, officials at Sun Yat-sen University took a series of steps starting in October that effectively killed it off, according to people familiar with the situation. This included barring it from organizing events, making it relinquish its office, withholding its funding and putting its library into storage, they said. The center’s website has been taken down, while its account on Chinese social-media giant Weibo has been inactive since Oct. 12.

Neither Sun Yat-sen University nor Berkeley have offered public explanation for the center’s closure.

“Industrial relations is by nature a sensitive subject,” said the retired trade union official, who is familiar with the center’s work. “Although the center hadn’t gotten involved in industrial disputes or organized labor, the authorities appear to taking their knives to everything when dealing with perceived sources of trouble.”

The effect, labor experts said, is to send a chilling signal to reform-minded researchers and officials.

“It’s precisely at moments like this when you want something like this center, where people were trying to figure out why these things are happening and debate these issues—discussions that are useful for formulating policy,” said Eli Friedman, an assistant professor at Cornell University who has done research with the center.

Opened in late 2010, the center hosted dozens of local and foreign researchers studying industrial relations in China, and held regular discussions between scholars, unionists and business leaders.

Senior executives from German auto maker Volkswagen AG visited regularly and spoke at seminars about industrial relations and human-resources management. Kong Xianghong, an inspector and former vice-chairman of the Guangdong Federation of Trade Unions, contributed an article to the center’s journal discussing collective wage negotiations during a 2010 auto-factory strike.

Collective bargaining—the process of negotiating terms of employment between employers and organized groups of workers—is an issue the center gave much attention to. The practice is touchy in China, where state-controlled unions are the only legal form of organized labor and are supposed to negotiate on behalf of workers.

Collective negotiations have increasingly featured in industrial disputes in Guangdong, where authorities recently rolled out a law that gives workers the right to collectively demand talks with employers over wages and benefits. The labor-research center helped, organizing academic discussions during the drafting of the law to gather opinions and translating drafts into English for the benefit of foreign scholars.

It isn’t clear how the closure would affect labor-related research at Sun Yat-sen University, which in December 2013 committed to hiring a new professor of industrial relations and social development with donations from Volkswagen. The hiring process hasn’t been concluded, a Volkswagen spokeswoman said.

Other U.S.-China university partnerships on labor studies-such as that between Cornell University and Renmin University in Beijing-haven’t been affected, though they primarily involve academic and student exchanges, according to researchers familiar with those programs.

Mr. Meng, the Beijing scholar who contributed a paper on collective bargaining to the center’s journal, said that being located in the manufacturing belt of Guangdong gave the Sun Yat-sen center an impact that labor-research programs at other institutes don’t have. “In Guangdong, academics have greater influence on students and the broader labor community, which may have worried authorities on a political level,” he said.

—Olivia Geng contributed to this article.China Labor Ties Fray as Grievances Rise, Economic Growth Slows

source: Wall Street Journal
http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-labor-ties-fray-as-grievances-rise-economic-growth-slows-1423528666

Responses from UNIQLO and G2000 concerning workers’ strike in Artigas Factory

23

Jan 2015

 

In response to the open letters from the General Secretary, Ms Lai-ha Cheung, of the Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Unions on 15 January 2015, UNIQLO and G2000 has made their responses on 20 January and 18 January 2015 respectively. Both the company have acknowledged the problems stated by Ms Cheung in the letter seriously and have requested Artigas for an appropriate explanation and urged the factory to negotiate with the workers. G2000 also announced that they have stopped placing new orders in Artigas since early January 2015 until the dispute is resolved. The companies pay great attention to the creditability of their business partners and wish the labour dispute can be resolved as soon as possible. Full version of responses from UNIQLO and G2000 are enclosed below. 

 

Response from Fast Retailing Group (UNIQLO)

 
 
 

 

 
 

Response from G2000

 

A public statement on 18 January 2015.

Statement: Responses to labour dispute at our supplying factory

A labour dispute has taken place in one of our supplying factories. In early 

December 2014, workers staged a strike in Artigas Clothing & Leatherwear 

Co. Ltd, due to missing social security premiums and housing public 

accumulation fund in arrears. The labour dispute has not yet been resolved.

In early January 2015, G2000 has decided to immediately stop placing new 

orders in this supplier, until the case is resolved and a new decision will be 

made.

Our chairman Michael Tien has urged the factory to seek consensus with 

the workers’ representatives through negotiation. G2000 has always been 

concerned about our business partners’ credibility and wishes this case can 

be appropriately settled as soon as possible.

G2000

 

2015年1月18日發表公開聲明

《聲明》: 有關外判生產商廠房勞資糾紛回應

就本公司其中一個外判生產商廠房的勞資糾紛,有以下回應:

本公司產品供應商之一深圳市龍華新區的慶盛廠,由去年12月初發生工人罷工,

質疑廠方拖欠社保及住房公積金,至今勞資糾紛仍未完全解決。

本公司本月初已決定於勞資糾紛解決前,即時終止對該廠的新訂單,直至事件明

朗化,再作另行決定。

本公司主席田北辰已敦促廠方,透過與勞方代表談判尋求共識。本公司一直高度

關注商業夥伴的信譽,冀事件盡早獲得妥善解決。

G2000

 

Relevant background information for reading:

Letter Writing Campaign: calling UNIQLO and G2000 to urge Artigas to negotiate with workers equally: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/press-release-and-statement-cn/letter-writing-campaign-calling-uniqlo-and-g2000-to-urge-artigas-to-negotiate-with-workers-equally

Missing social security and fund and housing provident fund lead to strike at Hong Kong-invested factory: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/labour-news/missing-social-security-fund-and-housing-provident-fund-lead-to-strike-at-hong-kong-invested-factoryhttp://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/labour-news/missing-social-security-fund-and-housing-provident-fund-lead-to-strike-at-hong-kong-invested-factory

Violence against workers in Artigas Factory: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/labour-news/violence-against-workers-in-artigas-factory

Urgent Appeal: Tell UNIQLO and G2000 stop using violence against workers in Artigas Factory: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/press-release-and-statement-cn/urgent-appeal-tell-uniqlo-and-g2000-to-stop-using-violence-against-workers-in-artigas-factory

HK unions urged UNIQLO and G2000 stop the violent suppression on the Artigas Factory workers: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/press-release-and-statement-cn/hk-unions-urged-uniqlo-and-g2000-stop-the-violent-suppression-on-the-artigas-factory-workers

CGT France Solidarity Letter with Artigas Workers: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/press-release-and-statement-cn/cgt-france-solidarity-letter-with-artigas-workers

Response of UNIQLO about Artigas' strike: http://en.hkctu.org.hk/mainland-china/labour-news/response-of-uniqlo-about-artigas-strike

 

 

China labour activists say facing unprecedented intimidation

21

Jan 2015

China labour activists say facing unprecedented intimidation

21 January 2015, Reuters

 

As China's economic growth slows, fuelling industrial unrest, independent labour advocates say they have never faced so much intimidation - and they expect it to get worse this year.

In coastal areas like Guangdong province in southern China, the slowdown and rising costs are forcing some factories to close or move inland, often without properly compensating workers.

The number of strikes more than doubled in 2014 to 1,378 from 656 the year before, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group. April saw the biggest strike in decades, when about 40,000 employees of Adidas and Nike supplier Yue Yuen went on strike to demand social insurance payments.

All of which is making work for labour activists such as Zeng Feiyang and Zhang Zhiru, while social media platforms such as WeChat, QQ and Sina Weibo are making it easier for word of industrial action to spread.

It is also increasing activists' run-ins with the police and others in a country where officials see strikes as a threat to social stability, and investors often see workers' rights as a threat to their wallets.

After nearly two decades as one of China's most prominent labour activists, Zeng, based in provincial capital Guangzhou, is no stranger to trouble. But last month was the first time he had been held overnight in a police station without charge, and twice he has spent the night under police guard at hotels since September.

Zhang, based in Shenzhen, says he has lost count of how many times police questioned him last year.

And he has been forced to move 13 times over the same period because, he says, police told his landlords he was a politically problematic tenant.

Other labour activists tell similar tales.

"The crackdown last year was the toughest in history," says Chen Huihai, director of worker training at leading labour dispute law firm Laowei. "2015 is going to be even tougher."

Police in Guangzhou and Shenzhen did not respond to requests for comment.

On top of the police action, Zeng and Zhang describe other worrying incidents they suspect are related to their labour advocacy.

One morning last month four men came to Zeng's office, accusing him of unpaid debts. Two of them kicked and punched him, breaking his glasses and leaving him with bruises on his leg and back.

Last fall, Zhang's car was doused in gasoline and its rear window smashed.

Both reported the incidents to police, but they remain unsolved and unexplained. Zhang says police did not investigate. The police did not respond to requests for comment.

 

SQUEEZE ON FOREIGN FUNDING

Activists say the police appear particularly concerned about groups receiving money from outside China.

"The police come to see us regularly. Their main objection is to our foreign funding," said an employee of advocacy group Beijing On Action International Cultural Centre who asked not to be named. As a result of such pressure, the organisation has stopped most of its work on labour rights.

Zhang's group, Chunfeng Labor Dispute Service Center, has also had to stop taking foreign money, and since October Zeng has not taken funding from China Labour Bulletin under pressure from the police.

Zeng said he had borrowed money from a friend to tide his organisation over until it can find new sources of support.

As officials have stepped up pressure on NGOs, they have been encouraging workers to turn instead to the state-sponsored All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the only legal union in China, which has mostly sat on the sidelines of industrial relations until now.

Under a law that came into effect in Guangdong this month, the chief negotiator for workers in collective bargaining should be the head of the union.

Li Ying, director of the Shenzhen ACFTU's legal department, says the union is "always trying to maximise benefits for workers", but Labour activists doubt that a Communist Party organ that has often sided with management or government can win the trust of people in dispute with their employers.

In which case, workers will still turn to people like Zeng for help.

Though he worries about the consequences of his work for his 10-year-old son and his wife, Zeng says he is undeterred.

"If they put me in prison, I will have no regrets."

New Regulation in Guangzhou to worsen the survival of NGOs

09

Jan 2015

NGOs in China have gone through an extreme tough year in 2014: nationally and locally, openly and secretly passing regulations to restrict their activities, cutting off funding and forcibly disappearances of directors, some continuously lived under the threat of an immediate ban from the authority. Overseas NGOs, NGOs which are working on sensitive issues, such as labour, rights-defending, religious and LGBT rights, are considered as a thorn in the Chinese Government’s side and face most of the repression.

Currently, nearly a thousand of overseas NGOs have long-term projects operating in China and if those with short-term cooperation are counted, the number could exceed 6,000. Each year, overseas NGOs could bring hundreds of millions of US dollars into China. According to Professor Wang Cunkui of People's Public Security University of China, among them, “several hundreds are politically infiltrated”, which using poverty alleviation, schooling, rights-defending and aid programmes as cover-ups, to conduct infiltration in China. He further accused them of creating public opinions through their “rights-defending” programmes, to incite hostility between people, the Party and the Government; or through joint projects, academic exchanges and interviews, to bring in the Western style of democracy and promote “citizenship” education among the general public.

Banning NGOs with unauthorized preparatory activities

The repression against NGOs is not only limited to overseas NGOs. On 16 October 2014, the Civil Affairs Bureau of Guangzhou City has issued a “Guangzhou City’s Working Regulation on Banning Illegal Social Organizations (Draft)” (hereafter: Regulation), calling for a ban on social organizations with “unauthorized preparatory activities of a social organization”. This Regulation created heated debates in the media. NGOCN, a charity website in Guangzhou had conducted a survey and among the 221 valid responses, 64.9% of the staff members of NGOs said their organization would be affected by this Regulation, if it would be passed.

“I believe many social organization would be banned. Our Migrant Workers’ Centre would be taken down.” Zeng Feiyang, director of one of the first grassroots organizations to support workers’ rights told us. It is the worst of the draconian laws to ban “unauthorized preparatory activities of a social organization”, he described. “Where is our freedom of association (guaranteed by Constitution) then? This Regulation itself is violating our Constitution.”. Zheng Ziyin, council member of Guangzhou City’s Federation of Social Organizations and lawyer of Lawsons Law Office, estimated that if this Regulation would be passed, then people who dance in the city’s plazas would be considered as conducting “unregistered activities operated by unauthorized social organizations” and this activity should be banned.

A NGO’s 17 years of existence without registration

This Regulation is a microcosm to demonstrate the hardship social organizations in Guangzhou endure. It was around 2012, when social organizations could attempt to directly register at Civil Affairs Bureau in certain pilot cities, and until now, a vast number of NGOs remain unregistered. Panyu Migrant Workers Documentation Centre (PMWDC) has been serving workers in Guangzhou for 17 years. When it tried to register at the Civil Affairs Bureau, it was told that “currently there is no guideline to register labour and rights-defending NGOs”. Another organization which supports the families of homosexuals, was also turned down by the same reason.

Informants from the Guangzhou Municipal Federation of Trade Unions told us that the Government has secretly listed as Zeng’s organization as foreign supported and it would not allow its registration. Yet, many unregistered social organizations have maintained a very subtle relationship with the Government. Many leaders of social organizations said they kept regular contacts with the State Security Bureau and ACFTU, actively reported to the authorities while defending rights for their clients.

Purchasing NGOs’ services = Authority’s means to disarm

The second half year of 2014 has been a long winter for NGOs. In September 2014, Zeng Feiyang was told that if his Migrant Workers’ Centre would continue to be funded by foreign foundations, it would be banned. Currently, about 70% of his organization’s funding comes from overseas. Many labour and gay rights organizations have reflected that starting from in 2014, the authority has interrogated them and monitored their overseas funding more frequently.

At the same time, the Civil Affairs Bureau announced that in 2015, it will conduct pilot projects to separate industry associations and chambers of commerce from administrative bodies, to improve the Government’s mechanism in purchasing public services, to innovate the supervision of Government and social monitoring, and to strengthen the regulation of overseas NGOs in China. A labour activist Chen Huihai observed some labour NGOs and concluded that after joining the Government’s services purchasing programmes, these organizations would stop campaigning for workers’ rights, but shift their attention to organize recreational activities. In reality, purchasing their services means disarming them.

Another NGO’s leader who wants to remain anonymous explained that the Government did purchase or through venture philanthropy to support NGOs’ development, but mainly in the area of civil affairs, such as poverty alleviation and supporting organizations of elderly and disabled. He said, “NGOs have no space at all. The difference between them is just some survive better, some have pressure and some simply vanish.”

source: Mingpao Daily (HK), 3 January 2015 (translation by HKCTU)

 

Missing social security fund and housing provident fund lead to strike at Hong Kong-invested factory

11

Dec 2014

Missing social security fund and housing provident fund lead to strike at Hong Kong-invested factory in Shenzhen

11 December 2014, Radio Free Asia

In Guanlan Town of Shenzhen City, over a thousand of workers of a Hong Kong-owned factory staged a strike on 10 December 2014, demanding the employer to repay the missing social security fund and housing provident fund over the past years. According to an estimation made by a labour rights organisation in Shenzhen, the two missing funds account for about 30 percent of a worker’s monthly income and it is a common phenomenon that employers fail to pay them in the Pearl River Delta.

picture source: sinaweibo of the Artigas workers' group

The industrial action took place this week. Workers released the news of strike at microblogs at Sina and QQ net,two major social media platforms in China. It is reported that over a thousand of workers participated in a strike at Artigas Clothing & Leatherware (Shenzhen) Ltd on 10 December, demanding the management to repay their missing social security fund and housing provident funds of the past years. In their microblogs, workers disclosed that it was only after 2003, their employer started to pay for workers’ social security premiums. To be entitled to pension payment, one has to pay in social security premiums for at least 15 years and this causes now, when many senior workers, who worked over 10 years in Artigas, retire, they find themselves getting no pension. On 1 December, workers issued a joint letter to demand the enterprise to repay social security fund and housing provident fund of the missing years. Workers gave the factory seven days to reply. Yet, on 9 December, a senior manager of Artigas told workers that the enterprise would investigate the microblog account of workers’ rights defending team and the news it had released. Such a threat intimidated the workers.

By 10 December, Artigas has not given any feedback and workers staged a strike. The workers said that the local social security bureau had intervened and told them that social security premiums could have a maximum of two retroactive years.  However, workers said that they were not calling for a retroactive payment, but a repayment. They condemned the social security which used the two-year rule as an excuse and advocated the society to offer them support and assistance, to help them defend their rights till the end.

Strike by container truck drivers brings Ningbo road to a standstill

21

Aug 2014

source: SCMP 2014-08-21 

Hundreds of container truck drivers in the coastal city of Ningbo went on strike for three days as they complained that transportation fees have not increased for eight years.

The strikers have been staging demonstrations on a major road since Monday and have attempted to stop the passing container trucks near Beilun port, south of Shanghai.

http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/files1/upload/images/file1408703852212.jpg

Striking drivers said they were protesting against transportation fees that have not increased in the past eight years, while petrol prices have more than doubled.

At least a hundred riot police, armed with helmet, batten, shield and K9 units, are seen deployed at the scene, trying to contain the situation.

 

Photos taken at the scene show a stand-off between strikers and the police has taken over a major road in Ningbo, prompting thousands of onlookers to gather.

Scuffles broke out between demonstrators and police officers who attempted to disperse the crowds, resulting in several people being dragged away from the scene by police.

Ningbo’s Container Transportation Association told the Qianjiang Evening News that it had already decided to raise the present guide rate for transport workers by 12 per cent after multiple rounds of negotiations that started in July. The new rates were due to be implemented on Friday.

http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/files1/upload/images/file1408703885266.jpg

But the association said that transportation rates should ultimately be set by transportation companies and private enterprises themselves. The striking truck drivers mostly worked for small transportation companies who did not have much clout over price negotiations.

The newspaper said the strike has not impacted on the port’s daily operation too much.

Out of the total of over 12,000 container trucks operating in Ningbo, only some 200 trucks had stopped working during the strike, it said.

 

Scores dead in huge factory explosion caused by dust in Jiangsu

04

Aug 2014

Smoke rises from the factory as workers gather outside in charred, tattered clothes following the explosion yesterday. Photo: Imagine China

 

Stephen Chen .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 8:33pm

Scores killed and almost 200 injured in blast apparently caused by flammable metallic dust in the air at car-wheel polishing plant

A total of 71 people were killed and 186 injured in a huge explosion at a Taiwanese-owned factory in Jiangsu yesterday.

Initial investigations indicated that sparks had ignited dust at the car wheel polishing plant in Kunshan, 50km west of Shanghai, at 7.37am, CCTV said. The factory is owned by the Taiwanese company, it said.

It broadcast images of black smoke billowing from the low-rise factory building, with the injured lying on makeshift wooden beds and being loaded onto trucks and ambulances.

Video: Scores dead and hundreds injured in Jiangsu factory explosion

"The scene is a mess, it's unrecognisable," one person claiming to be a witness wrote on Sina Weibo.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang called for "all efforts" to be made in the rescue and treatment of victims. Relevant authorities were urged to strengthen workplace safety standards.

Kunshan hospital staff said they had admitted more than a hundred victims, mostly suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. They had requested help from major hospitals in Shanghai, and had asked residents to donate blood at temporary collection points.

https://www.scmp.com/sites/default/files/styles/486w/public/2014/08/02/px247_27a1_7.jpg?itok=InnV3Pt8

Medical personnel transport a victim at a hospital after the explosion. Photo: Reuters

Zhongrong Plating employs 450 workers and counts General Motors and other US firms among its clients. More than 200 employees were working overtime when the blast happened, Kunshan authorities said. Police had detained five company executives, Xinhua reported.

The cause of the explosion is still being investigated but an accumulation of flammable metallic dust in the air may have come into contact with live sparks, the Kunshan government said. Such explosions have become rare in modern factories equipped with ventilation systems.

 

"I find it hard to believe that so many lives were lost. This is an old industrial town. We have not seen anything so deadly," said the owner of a restaurant near the scene of the disaster.

https://www.scmp.com/sites/default/files/2014/08/03/36.jpg

A mobile phone shows dead bodies are placed on a truck after the explosion. Photo: EPA

Zhongrong Plating employs 450 workers and counts General Motors and other US firms among its clients. More than 200 employees were working overtime when the blast happened, Kunshan authorities said. Police had detained five company executives, Xinhua reported.

The cause of the explosion is still being investigated but an accumulation of flammable metallic dust in the air may have come into contact with live sparks, the Kunshan government said. Such explosions have become rare in modern factories equipped with ventilation systems.

 

"I find it hard to believe that so many lives were lost. This is an old industrial town. We have not seen anything so deadly," said the owner of a restaurant near the scene of the disaster.

https://www.scmp.com/sites/default/files/2014/08/02/original.jpg

Emergency officials at the scene of the blast. Photo: Screenshot via Sina Weibo

Post from: South China Morning Post http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1564853/jiangsu-factory-blast-kills-65-and-injures-over-hundred

 

 

Shenzhen procuratorate drops the criminal charge against striker Wu Guijun

08

Jun 2014

Words in the picture:

After more than a year of illegal detention, the procuratorate drop the charge

Striking is not a crime

(Source of the picture: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152186112365994&set=a.10151675201300994.1073741828.537350993&type=1&theater)

 

Mr. Wu guijun who is a representative of striking workers of a household product making factory in Shenzhen. He was arrested on May 23th 2013 due to his participation in the strike. He was likely criminalized by the Shenzhen procuratorate as "disturbing social order". After three court hearings, he was bailed out on May 29 2014. On June 9, 2014, the Shenzhen procuratorate finally dropped their charges.  

Mr. Wu posted his feeling on his micro-blog (similar to twitter) emphaizing that striking is not a crime. He also thanks for the supports and powers of workers as well as all the people who show supports to him. The first thing he wants to do is to return home to reunion with his family. He will share his experiences in near future.

 

More background information of his story, please see the related article of HKCTU website:

Urgent action: please download the picture(s) and circulate, many thanks!

http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/en/article_subpage.jsp?id=162

China Labour Quarterly March 2014

http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/en/article_subpage.jsp?id=157

Wu Guijun Trails tests China's tolerance of Worker Strike

http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/en/article_subpage.jsp?id=137

The hearing of Wu Guijun eventually started

http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/en/article_subpage.jsp?id=136

 

HKCTU Condemns Six Major Chambers of Commerce & Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference

15

May 2014

[State of Condemnation]

 

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions Condemns the Six Major Chambers of Commerce & Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference in Jointly Depriving Chinese and Hong Kong Workers' Rights to Collective Bargaining

 

Today (15 May 2014), the Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference (hereafter: HKBCJC) advertised on various newspapers, to express its opposition against the introduction of  “Regulations on Collective Contract" (hereafter: Revised Draft Regulation)[1]; on 15 April 2014, the six major Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong (hereafter: six major Chambers) sent a joint petition to the Chief Executive Chun-ying Leung and other 13 department heads of the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities, calling them to put a halt to the above mentioned regulations. The HKCTU is outraged by these shameful practices and condemns the six major Chambers and HKBCJC's joint conspiracy in depriving Chinese and Hong Kong workers of their core labour rights.

 

The fact that “numerous collective labour actions take place due to enterprises' failure to engage in collective consultation” is ignored

The right to collectively bargain is recognized through international human rights conventions. Legislation to ensure workers' representatives and employers to equally bargain; systematic mechanism to handle disputes occurred due to uneven distribution of profits between workers and employers, in the long-term can enhance social justice and economic prosperity. Since 2010, Guangdong Province and Shenzhen City have been putting out regulations related to collective consultation, yet chambers of commerce from different countries keep holding them back, and among them, the Hong Kong entrepreneurs are the most vocal ones. Many regulations are therefore held at a standstill. However, the lack of collective bargaining is exactly the cause of the increasing number of strikes and collective actions, which has gone up by 70%, from 382 to 656 between 2012 and 2013.

The six major Chambers' claim of “effective consultation mechanisms with workers currently exist in many Hong Kong invested enterprises” is simply their wishful thinking. Between March 2013 and late April 2014, at least 15 collective labour actions in Hong Kong enterprises in Guangdong Province, covering a total workforce of some 100,000 in these labour disputes, all involving strikes, have been documented. Near 90% of these strikes were triggered by enterprises' violations of labour laws and 40% of the enterprises involved are members of four major chambers of commerce. One of the examples is Sanda Kan Industrial Ltd (Dongguan), owned by Kader Industrial Company Limited. Kadar is led by Kenneth Woo-shou Ting, a member of the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and ex-chairperson of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries. Strike broke out in Sanda Kan when it relocated from Dongguan and left more than 1,000 workers without severance compensation. Instead of having the employer coming forth to negotiate with workers, police from the Wanjiang District were sent to crack down their action and detained workers. The large scale and high frequency of strikes tell us that the current so-called enterprises' self-discipline mechanism cannot effectively resolve labour disputes and only when collective consultation is protected by law, enterprises would make effort to address workers' demands.

 

Six major Chambers should not only focus on business profits, but also corporate social responsibility

Article 8 of Labour Law and Article 4 of Labour Contract Law have stipulated  workers' rights to collective consultation, while the Revised Draft Regulation simply spells out the specific provisions on how to exercise this right. Therefore it is unjustifiable for the six major Chambers to describe it as "beyond the scope of current policy," "not bound by existing laws". Article 8 of Labour Law states “Labours shall take part in democratic management through workers' congress, workers' representative assembly, or any other forms in accordance with law, or consult with the employer on an equal footing about protection of the legitimate rights and interests of labourers.” and Article 4 of Labour Contract Law says “ ...The employing unit shall make public or inform the workers of the rules and regulations, and the decisions on important matters, which have a direct bearing on the immediate interests of the workers.”

In the past three decades, Hong Kong entrepreneurs have taken many advantages, such as land and taxes incentives as foreign enterprises when setting up business in China. It is time that they should not only focus on “management autonomy” and self-interests, while sacrificing legal rights of the working class of Guangdong Province. The Revised Draft Regulation targets on enterprises which fail to discipline themselves and protects workers whose rights are being violated under the current legal framework. In other words, it does not carry any “unfair contents” or “unjust procedures” as the six major Chambers have accused it of. If the Revised Draft Regulation is halted, Chinese workers are truly being treated “unfairly” and there is “a lack of rule of law”.

 

Six major Chambers using their political influence to harm Chinese and Hong Kong workers' rights

The leaders of the six major Chambers hold many important official roles (please see below for details). For example, Irons Sze and Charles Yeung are both members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Chung-kong Chow is an unofficial member of the HKSAR Government's Executive Council. Their roles require them to see from the public's perspective, monitor the labour conditions at enterprises and raise proposals which are in the interests of the general public. However, their current practice is openly siding with the exploitative Hong Kong entrepreneurs, to deprive Chinese workers of their rights to collective bargaining and accuse workers of “using the public to pressurize the enterprises”.

As a member of the Executive Council (a core policy making body in advising the Chief Executive), Chung-kong Chow did not only fail to address the conflict of interest, but even took part in the petition to urge the Chief Executive in using Hong Kong Government's influence to block legislation in China. The petition also declared its disapproval of the rights of collective bargaining of the some 3 million employees in Hong Kong, calling the Revised Draft Regulation “would serve as an example for pressure groups in Hong Kong, in pushing for the legislation of the rights to collective bargaining in Hong Kong.”

The right to collectively bargain is internationally recognized as core labour rights.  Enterprises should respect workers' rights to freely organize and join trade unions, as well as to collectively bargain, in resolving labour disputes. Without the legal guidelines, it is difficult to realize an effective collective bargaining mechanism. For example, on one hand, the employers or trade associations often refuse to recognize workers' representatives, let alone negotiating with them. On the other hand, even they have reached an agreement, without legal protection, its implementation is in vain. Given the power imbalance between employers and employees, workers can only discuss with the employers about their wages and welfares individually. The employers can easily take the “divide and rule”approach, and the collective interests of workers are at stake.

 

        Thus, the HKCTU

1.      condemns the proposal of halting the legislation of the Revised Draft Regulation made by the six major Chambers and the HKBCJC.

2.      Calls

      1) the Hong Kong Government to maintain its neutrality. When collecting opinions, it should consult stakeholders from all aspects, including the trade unions and labour organizations in Hong Kong.

      2) the Chinese Government and the National People's Congress to pass the Revised Draft Regulation immediately, in order to implement concrete provisions of collective consultation and enhance the development of labour relations.

 

Major offices and titles of some of the chairpersons / presidents of the six major Chambers hold:

Irons Wing-wai Sze, president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, serves as member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

Charles Yeung, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, awarded with Silver Bauhinia Star, serves as member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and appointed as Justice of the Peace

Stanley Lau, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, serves as Standing Committee Member of Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People‘s Political Consultative Conference and Justice of Peace

Chung-kong Chow, chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, serves as unofficial member of Executive Council and chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited

Shing Hum Chong, president of the Hong Kong Chinese Importers' & Exporters' Association, serves as Standing Committee Member of Huzhou Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and previously  Standing Committee Member of Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

 

[1]   The regulation was previously known as “Regulations on Collective Negotiation and Collective Contract in Enterprises of the Guangdong Province (Revised Draft)”.

 

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