Strike Broke Out in an Electronic Factory in Shenzhen Government Forced Workers to “Settle”
On 6 January 2019, a strike broke out in OPD Technology (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd. , due to its relocation plan from Baoan District, Shenzhen City to Dongguan City.
The enterprise was founded in 1995 and later acquired by Shenzhen Fenda Technology Co. Ltd., a listed company in Shenzhen Stock Exchange. As the current plant is located at the intersection of Songgang Avenue and Furong Road No. 2 in Baoan District, where the Shenzhen Outer Ring Highway is expected to be built on, the government ordered the plant to relocate before new year, to ensure the construction plan to be completed timely and the enterprise has been then moving its machinery to the new plant in Qingxi County, Dongguan City.
According to a document of Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, when a factory moves away from the territory of Shenzhen City, it should pay its workers compensation to end the labour relation, which is calculated by the length of their services. However, OPD Technology never discussed the compensation issue with workers, which enraged the workers and a strike broke out on 6 January 2019. The workers demanded the employer to pay the compensation as required by law. The enterprise argued that it had rented some land in Songgang Luotian Community in the same district for production and workers would not be relocated from Shenzhen, and therefore, they would not be entitled to compensation. Yet, workers pointed out the area rented in Songgang Luotian was just temporary and unsuitable for production, as most machinery had been moved to Dongguan City. They believed the enterprise was just making an excuse to avoid paying them compensation.
The strike continued till 8 January. Then a large number of police officers arrived to crack it down, causing many workers injured. Backed by the authority, the enterprise made a despicable offer, setting the rate of compensation at 40% of local legal minimum wages (RMB 880) for each year of service to end the labour relations. It gave workers only three days to consider and complete the compensation procedure, and would treat them as “absenteeism” afterwards. Suppressed by both government and employer, workers were forced to accept the compensation arrrangement and return to work. Most workers also applied to end their labour relation with OPD Technology.
This relocation is triggered by the government’s construction project. In order to deliver the project, the government assisted the employer to suppress workers. In other words, knowing the government would be benefited from abusing workers’ rights, the employer would not think twice to exploit workers. This case is just a tip of the iceberg of the collusion between government and business in China, it gives us a hint to imagine the difficulties Chinese workers would face in safeguarding their rights.