Press Release and Statement (CN)

HK unions urged UNIQLO and G2000 stop the violent suppression on the Artigas Factory Workers

24

Dec 2014

The Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union (RCCIGU), HKCTU and more 20 representatives from HK labour groups went to protest again at UNIQLO and G2000 shops on Dec 24, 2014.  It was because the two brands did not take enough action to pressurize Artigas to resovle the labour dispute but tolerate the violent suppresion of strikers in the factories. Both companies recieved the petition letters from RCCIGU last week but  instead replying the unions directly, the owner of G2000 Mr. Michael Tien only posted  a statement on his personal facebook and UNIQLO publisehd a statement on their website. RCCIGU, HKCTU and other labour groups concerned will keep following this case and keep taking actions to push the company to address the problem properly. 

Background

Artigas Clothing & Leatherwear Company Limited in Mission Hills, Shenzhen is an OEM factory for Hong Kong fashion brands such as G2000, owned by National People's Congress delegate, Mr. Michael Tien and Japanese fashion brand UNIQLO.  Since Dec. 1st, the workers demand the factory to repay the social security contribution in arrears.  However, the employer continued to ignore the workers' demand.  Thus, the workers went on strike from Dec. 10th demanding the factory to repay the social security and housing insurance contribution in arrears and initiate negotiation with the workers immediately.

      

Recent Development

On Dec. 18th, several hundred police stormed into Artigas and dispersed the striking workers.    Workers' representatives were taken away and shipments for UNIQLO were delivered with the assist of the police. Until now, 31 worker's leaders were arrests and many were injured, including one suffered severe head injury and needed to be hospitalized.  Other workers, including pregnant women were beaten up.  Meanwhile, the police extorted the detained workers to terminate the strike, whiles others were threatened to elect the workers' representatives arranged by the employer.  Nonetheless, the workers remain united and refuse to back down, they also refused to sign the agreement to give up on the rights defending action.  All detained workers were released before midnight after twelve hours of detention.

    

In recent day, some workers return to work under threats and inducement from the employer.  However, many of them pointed out they have to work under close surveillance and the working conditions are very oppressive.  They even describe slackness would be dealt with violently.

 

The Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union of Hong Kong and the HKCTU demand the Shenzhen Municipal Government, UNIQLO, and G2000 to:

 

1.  Instruct Artigas to stop all violent acts and other means to suppress the workers action.  Violence from the police, dismissing and punishing workers cannot resolve the dispute.

2. Initiate fair and just negotiation with the striking workers and their representatives immediately.  And promise no retaliative action will be made to the striking workers in future.

 

The Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

Dec. 24th, 2014

 

Urgent Appeal: Tell Uniqlo and G2000 to Stop Using Violence Against Workers in Artigas Factory

19

Dec 2014

19 December 2014

 

On 18 December 2014, hundreds of police stormed into the Hong Kong owned Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Company in Shenzhen. China to disperse workers who have been on strike for nine days to demand their mandatory social insurance and housing provident fund premiums. Instead of answering the strikers’ request for a negotiation with the employer on 18 December, police were called in to clear the way for the factory management to ship the finished clothing to Uniqlo. 31 leading strikers were arrested and 1 of them was hospitalized for serious injuries in the head, many other workers were injured. Others, including pregnant women workers were beaten up by the police. Under custody, the detained workers were pressed by the police to quit the strike. Their colleagues in the factory were intimidated by the management to return to work, and elect the hand-picked persons as bargaining representatives. The striking workers managed to stand together and forced to sign a “Waive rights Declaration” , All striking workers rejected to sign the declaration, and all the workers were released before midnight after more than 12 hours’ detention.

 

The Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union of Hong Kong (RCCIGU) and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) are calling your support to tell the Shenzhen Municipal government and the Japanese and Hong Kong buyers of Artigas, Uniqlo and G2000 the following :

 

  1. Stop using violence and other punishments against workers in Artigas. Police force, unfair dismissals and other punishments cannot solve labour conflicts.

  2. Enter into fair collective negotiation with the striking workers and the representatives they elected as soon as possible.

 

Initiated by:

Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

 

Supported by:

Catering and Hotels Industries Employees General Union

CGAS Geneva (The Geneva Unions Confederation)

Coach Drivers Union

Community Care and Nursing Home Workers General Union

Construction Site Workers General Union

Cleaning Service Industry Workers Union

Concrete Industry Workers Union

CUHK Employees General Union

Chinese Working Women Network

Federation of Bus Drivers Unions

Federation of Hong Kong Transport Worker Organizations

Globalization Monitor

Hong Kong Domestic Workers General Union

Hong Kong & Kowloon Life Guards Union

Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association

Labour Education and Service Network

Left 21

Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre

Personal and Community Services Workers General Union

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour

Swire Beverages ( Hong Kong) Employees General Union

Union of Hong Kong Dockers

Workers’ Empowerment

 

Protest action asking Marks&Spencer to live up to a responsible retailer

21

Jul 2014


Marks & Spencer tolerated the misbehavior of its Shenzhen supplier GCL Footwear

A female worker committed suicide to protest against unlawful dismissal of GCL

 

HKCTU and labour organizations concerning Chinese workers launched a demonstration to protest against Marks & Spencer and its supplier Grosby Footwear Limited (GCL Ltd) at the Tsim Sha Tsui office of Marks and Spencer this morning. Grosby employs more than 200 workers and is located in Shenzhen. It has been a long term supplier of Marks and Spencer. HKCTU learnt that one female employee of Grosby who was amongst the sacked workers of the company, jumped off from the factory building in the morning of July 17. She died from this incident. We believed that her suicide was triggered by the unreasonable dismissal of Grosby. The letter to the CEO of Marks & Spencer from us is as below:

 

Marc Bolland

CEO of Marks & Spencer

Marc.Bolland@marks-and-spencer.com

 

Laura Hawkesford

Ethical Trading Manager of Marks & Spencer

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

 

Dear Mr. Bolland,

 

Asking Marks & Spencer to Live up to a Responsible Retailer

 

We as unions and labour organizations in Hong Kong are shocked to learn that a female worker from Grosby Footwear (Shenzhen) Ltd, a long term supplier of your company, committed suicide yesterday as a result of the un-resolved strike and termination of her employment contract. The fifty-year-old worker ZHOU JiangRong had served in the factory for more than ten years. She was sacked on July 16 2014 for taking part in workplace strikes.

We deplore that Grosby management has taken the hardest line in handling the dispute with its employees regarding their seniority and severance protection over a suspected closure of business which led to the strike on 26 May 2014. Instead of agreeing to negotiate with the trade union for a settlement, Grosby management went ahead to sack, by now, a total of 160 workers including the Vice-Chair of the union and elected representatives for taking part in the strikes. The management’s mediation meeting with its employees on 24 June 2014 was conducted while the Vice-Chair of the union was put under police detention as a punishment for siding with his members in the strike.

As if this has not been enough, we are outraged to find that on 14 July 2014, the management offered to take back the terminated workers by requesting them to sign on a guarantee letter admitting their wrongdoings, asking for the management’s forgiveness, promising not to commit unlawful acts again and agreeing to abide by the factory rules.

Grosby management has busted the union, sacked the union officers and elected representatives, refused to negotiate a deal, locked out the factory and forced a no-strike agreement. None of these is agreeable with the freedom of association clause written in the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) Base Code that your company has put your name to.

 

We demand your company to immediately take the following steps:

(1)   Press Grosby management to reinstate all the sacked workers without condition including the Vice-Chair of the union and the workers’ representatives;

(2)   Call for an official mediation meeting with Grosby management and the factory union, after the reinstatements of the members, for a settlement to the dispute.

(3)   An independent investigation of the death of ZHOU Jiangrong and consultation with her family and the union regarding assistance and compensation.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs

Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association

Neighbourhood & Workers service centre

 

A demonstration against six major Chambers of Commerce

06

Jun 2014

 

Today (6 June 2014), Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) and Hong Kong Labor Organizations stage a demonstration at the Annual General Meeting of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce to protest against Hong Kong business groups regarding on the Regulations of Guangdong Province on the Collective Contracts of Enterprises (the “Revised Draft”). The business groups have been continuously opposed the enactment of the “Revised Draft” and trampled the basic labor rights of Chinese workers. We urge them to change mind immediately and support the “Revised Draft” in the light of achieving a healthy relationship among workers and employers. HKCTU teased Hong Kong business groups suffering phobia and are very resistant to collective negotiation. The representative of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce initially refused to accept the letter, and left with a bad temper. Protest in progress around an hour after, Malcolm Ainsworth, the Assistant Director of the Chamber eventually come out and accepted the letter. CTU requested to meet the six Chambers of Commerce, Malcolm Ainsworth promised to respond within a week. Enclosed please find the statement of the labour groups.

Last month, Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference had a full advertisement in a number of Hong Kong newspapers to against the “Revised Draft” and claimed that they were in a deep worry as the “Revised Draft” will seriously ruin the employee employer relationship. Early in April, Six Hong Kong Chambers of Commerce jointly sent a petition to thirteen Hong Kong and China government departments’ officials including the HKSAR Chief Executive and Governor of Guangdong Province in objection to the collective negotiation rights of the Chinese workers. Throwback to 2008, these Hong Kong business groups have been already disapproved the regulations on the collective negotiation rights in Guangdong Province, which in a result of increasing labor disputes.  

The labor disputes issues increase rapidly in recent years and strikes are happening constantly. There have been more than 500 strikes in Guangdong province since 2011. The strikes are starting to last longer, the numbers of participants are increasing, and the impact is becoming more substantial – all of which directly challenge the harmony among workers and the enterprises, also the society. These business groups misunderstood that labor disputes are the result of the regulations on collective negotiation. In fact, the experiences shown in other countries have already proved that collective negotiation is for the sake of solving worsening labour disputes.

Since the Open Door Policy, Hong Kong business enterprises have been starting to invest in South China and enjoyed a lot of benefits for example on land use and taxation. Moreover, these businessmen also carry the identity of NPC Standing Committee or the members of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference who can directly influence the policies making. Now, the working class in China has been arising and urging for an improvement of their working conditions. It is therefore necessary for the immediate implementation of the “Revised Draft”. These business groups cannot only care for their self-interests but must respond to the trend right now. Right to collective bargaining right is one of the core labour rights as attributed by International Labour Organization. Also, collective bargaining regulations are stated in Japan, the America and a lot of European countries. Even in East Asia, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea have regulations to protect this fundamental labor right. Unfortunately, Hong Kong business enterprises are still out of touch of the reality.

We are here to strongly protest against Hong Kong major chambers groups which insisting to oppose and intervene the implementation of the Regulations of Guangdong Province on the Collective Contracts of Enterprises.

In order to promote a just wealth distribution and economic development, we strongly demand the central and local government to pass a legislation on collective bargaining to ensure a fair industrial relation under legal framework.

 

 

Protest supporting Sanda Kan strike in Dongguan; Stop suppressing workers’ rights

14

Apr 2014

 

Today morning, around 11 a.m., Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network and several labour organisations organised a protest at the Kadar Building against the Kadar Group and Sanda Kan Company not responding to striking workers’ demands. Instead, the strike and workers were suppressed by over thousands of policemen. Organisations supported the workers in Sanda Kan Company in Dongguan and opposed the suppression on workers’ rights.

Sanda Kan Industrial Ltd is a company owned by the Hong Kong based Kadar Group. In Sanda Kan, there are over one thousand employees and it produces train models for famous international toy brands, including Tomy and Microace in Japan, Hornby in Germany and Bii in the US. The Chairperson of Kadar Group, Mr Kenneth Ting, is the incumbent member of the Standing Committee of CPPCC of Jiangsu Province, member of the standing committee of Liberal Party, Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS), Justice of the Peace (JP), Permanent Honorary President of Hong Kong Plastics Manufacturers Association.

Starting from late February this year, one thousand workers in Sanda Kan initiated a strike. The strike has lasted for over 50 days. The origin of the strike is that the management without negotiating with workers, decided to move the factory from Wanjiang District to Zhongtang town (over 10 Kilometres away). Workers were dissatisfied with the unilateral decision and urged bilateral negotiations. They also think Sanda Kan should pay economic compensation and wages in lieu of notice.

On the 6th of March, hundreds of workers took to the streets and stopped the company from moving its facilities and urge the company to perform their legal responsibilities. After negotiations, Sanda Kan agreed to pay each worker 1000 CNY. But workers requested higher compensation according to Labour Contract Act and continued their struggle. In late March, the president of Dongguan Federation of Trade Unions Guo Shui claimed that the incident had been settled and Sanda Kan also issued a notice concerning the arrangement of the relocation. Nevertheless, workers’ demands had not been properly met and they went on a march again. Workers said, worker representatives had been threatened by the police in the past, and therefore to protect their representatives, they refused to send them to negotiate.

On 10th of April, Sanda Kan relocated the equipment from the factory. At the same time, over one thousand policemen entered the factory and forced the workers to sign resignation letters. Based on information from the workers, around 10 workers were still detained.

Since the opening of market in China in the 1980s, the rapid economic development of the country has relied on workers’ sweat and blood. They have been exploited for many years and their basic human and labour rights are violated every day. Decades of exploitation has led to workers coming out and fighting for their rights, as the government and trade unions are not providing the support they need. Instead, they collude with the employers and use force and authority to arrest and suppress workers.

Hong Kong groups of organisations concerned about labour rights. They strongly supported the workers’ strike in Sanda Kan, Dongguan, and stand in solidarity with the workers. They opposed the authorities using force to suppress workers. The groups urged the Kadar Group, Sanda Kan Company, Dongguan government and trade unions to protect the labour rights of the workers, in particular, the right of association, right to strike and right of collective bargaining. They should respond to the workers’ demands, release the arrested workers and negotiate with the workers in good faith.

This protest also obtained the support from various Asian trade unions and labour organisations. The name list is as followed:

Contact:

HKCTU Chief executive MUNG Siutat (9099 6193) and AMRC Programme Coordinator LI Shinghong (6196 1293)

 

Initiators:

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions HKCTU 香港職工盟 and Asia Transnational Corporations (ATNC) Monitoring Network 亞洲跨國企業監察網絡

 

Co-signed Organisations:

Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) 亞洲專訊資料研究中心

Labour Action China (LAC) 中國勞動透視

Globalization Monitor (GM) 全球化監察

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) 大學師生監察無良企業行動

Worker Empowerment (WE) 勞動力

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Philippines (CTUHR)

Centre for Workers Education, India (CWE)

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Philippines (EILER)

Federation of Independent Trade Union, Indoesnia (GSBI)

Korea House for International Solidarity (KHIS)

Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan (LEF)

National Garment Worerks Federation, Bangladesh (NGWF)

Policy Research for Development Alternative & Trade Union Education centre, Bangladesh (UBINIG & Sramabikash Kendra )

Sedane Labour Resource Center, Indonesia (LIPS)

SENTRO, Philippines

Yokohama Action Research, Japan (YAR)

Committee for Asian Women, Thailand (CAW)

Interfaith Cooperation Forum, Hong Kong (ICF)

Textile and Garment Workers' Federation, Bangladesh (TGWF)

Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union (R.C.C.I.G.U.) 零售、商業及成衣業總工會

National Hazard Campaign, UK

LEADER, Philippines

Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI)

Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV)

Scottish Hazards Campaign

European Work Hazards Network

 

Striking is not a crime! Free Wu Guijun and other imprisoned labour activists NOW!

01

Oct 2013

Pictures of the protest: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/f6rggv1vwtrkeoy/nRmYiVNNZz

 

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) marched to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR to protest against the Chinese government’s repression on workers' rights, as well as the illegal detention of Wu Guijun, a strike representative of a Hong Kong-owned factory, for over 130 days.  More than 40 union representatives and Hong Kong citizens participated in the procession, while many of them wore masks of Wu behind bars, meaning there are at least another 12 unionists who were subjected to arbitrary detention in the PRC.  The HKCTU called on Chinese government to release all labour activists in prison.

President of the HKCTU, Mr. Cheng Ching-fat, pronounced that, "The October 1st National Day is a National Day of Anger" because Chinese workers are still unable to freely enjoy the three basic labour rights (freedom of association, the right to strike and the right to collective bargaining).  As in the past year, a wave of factory closure, malicious back pay of wages due to plant relocation and intentional depression on layoff compensation frequently occurred in the Pearl Delta Region.  However, local governments were unable to carry out their duties to regulate and to enforce the labour law.  Instead, the local governments tend to deal with the workers' self-organized strike actions with an iron-hand.  More than often, riot police were dispatched to repress worker protests, worker organizers were detained and forcing workers to accept severance payments which were lower than the statutory standards.

Wu Guijun was one of the activists being repressed and detained.  Wu was an employee in Diweixin Product Factory, a Hong Kong-owned furniture factory in Shenzhen.  According to local press reports last week, Diweixin’s plant in Shenzhen was gradually closing down for the relocation of production from Shenzhen to Huizhou as a means to reduce cost.  During the turn of the year, workers began to engage in severance negotiation with the employer and elected Wu as their representative.  The workers went on strike on May 7th, and petitioned to the City Government for intervention.  On May 23, 300 workers were besieged by the police while marching to the City Government and more than 20 workers were arrested and detained for 13 to 37 days, including Wu Guijun. Wu has been put behind bars for more than 130 days ever since.  According to sources from Weibo (mini blog), the Shenzhen police have already handed Wu over to the Prosecution Department on September 28th and charged him with criminal offense – assembling a crowd to disturb social order.  

The HKCTU and a congregation of demonstrators protested outside the Liaison Office to condemn the arrest of Labour Movement activists and the crackdown on the workers’ right to strike.  The HKCTU believes that the strikers and Wu Guijun’s actions, which inflicted no destruction on public and private property, were barely exercising their basic worker’s rights and the criminal charges against Wu are completely unfounded.  Hence, the HKCTU demands the immediate and unconditional release of Wu Guijun and stop the abuse of police authority to repress the labour movement.

The HKCTU urges the Chinese Government to amend the Trade Union Act to allow workers to form or join unions of their choice.  In face of plantsliquidation, unpaid wages, and other labor disputes, many workers resort to go on strike because most of the factory-based trade unions are controlled by the management and therefore, cannot effectively represent the interests of the workers.  However, these spontaneous actions taken by the workers are often not enduring.  In order to successfully safeguard workers interests and enhance their collective bargaining capability, it is imperative to establish autonomousdemocratic trade unions and put an end to the ACFTU’s monopoly in organizing workers.

In addition, the HKCTU also announced the list of 12 unionists who are under imprisonment (see ANNEX).  According to the International Trade Union Confederation Liaison Office in Hong Kong (IHLO), the above unionists were put under detention because of their participation in protests or strikes.  The HKCTU believes these known cases are just the tip of the iceberg and the HKCTU has already submitted the relevant information to the UN Human Rights Council.  Moreover, the HKCTU expresses deep regrets on the Chinese Government’s failure to give an account for the situation of freedom of association, theright to strike and the right to collective bargaining in her report to the Second Universal Periodic Review on the PRC human rights situation.

 

The HKCTU calls on the Hong Kong civil society and the international community to continue to follow with interest in Chinese Labour Rights, and urges the Chinese Government to:

1.        Free Wu Guijun and all Labour Movement Activists who are under detention, and stop the suppression on all rights claiming workers;

2.        Ratify the ILO Convention No. 87 & 98, i.e. the implementation of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining;

3.        Severely punish corporates that violate labour rights and vigorous law enforcement to protect labour rights.

 

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