China Labour Quarterly Issue 16
Chinese Workers’ Labour Dispute in Saipan
Exposing Major Issues in Chinese Overseas Investment
This summer, an industrial action broke out on the quiet island of Saipan, a popular vacation destination in the western Pacific Ocean which is a commonwealth of the United States. Chinese construction workers, employed by Chinese out-contractors Metallurgical Corporation of China Limited, Nanjing Beilida New Material System Engineering and Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration staged a protest to claim missing wages and labour insurance while working on the Imperial Palace Casino Project owned by the Hong Kong listed company Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. According to the online version of People’s Daily, each of these workers paid 10,000 Yuan to the labour agencies before leaving China while being promised to earn 300 Yuan per day on Saipan Island, which is far lower than the local minimum wages. Furthermore, workers found themselves arriving at the island without valid work permit and their daily wages shrink to 200 Yuan. In March 2017, a worker fell from the construction site and died. It triggered workers’ anger and they started to fight for their rights. At the time of writing, their struggle is still ongoing with 37 workers, employed by Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd., staying behind Saipan and demand for back wages from February 2017.
Chinese Government Sentenced Rights Defending Reporters to Forbid Public’s Rights to Know
30 May this year, three Chinese labour activists, Huahai Feng, Li Zhao, and Su Heng were arrested in Jianxi Province, when investigating labour rights conditions in a shoe factory, the Huajian Group, that makes Ivanka Trump-branded shoes. Three people were detained for nearly a month being being released on June 28.
Dispatched Workers Protested for Equal Pay for Equal Work at FAW Volkswagen in Changchun
On 21 May 2017, dispatched workers from FAW Volkswagen’s plant in Changchun, China protested for “equal pay for equal work” at the Changchun Marathon. Three workers’ representatives, Fu Tianfu, Wang Shuai, Ai Zhenyu were detained shortly afterwards. At the time of writing, Wang and Ai have been released reportedly, while Fu remains detained. All three workers’ representatives might face criminal charges. Despite the suppression, the struggle goes on. In Germany, trade union of Mercedes Benz’s Bremen plant issued a statement to support the Changchun dispatched workers’ demands. The statement points out that in the first quarter of 2017, Volkswagen made a profit of 33.5 million Yuan and growth is expected to continue. While dispatched / subcontracted workers are putting in the same kind of work as regular workers, they should be treated equally. The German union also urged the authority to release the workers’ representatives immediately.
Under China’s Authoritarian Governance:
Hong Kong Marches Towards “Rule by Law”
When Typhoon Hato struck Hong Kong last month, the Hong Kong Observatory issued the Typhoon Signal No.10, which is the highest level of tropical cyclone warning signals in Hong Kong since 2012. Although no death was reported, the rampage of Hato was enough to cause widespread flooding, property damage, and put the city to a standstill. Yet, the devastations caused by Hato are, by no means, comparable to another storm that shakes up the political landscape in the territory. Within one week, 16 young political prisoners emerged when 13 activists in the anti-northeast New Territories development demonstrations were first sentenced to 13 months in prison, followed by the Student-trio of the Umbrella Movement were later put behind bars from six to eight months.
Commemorating the Fifth Anniversary of Li Wangyang’s Death
6 June 2017 is the fifth anniversary of Li Wangyang’s death. The HKCTU held a candle light vigil at Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier, with some 200 mourners commemorated him. Interviews of Li Wangyang and his friends were broadcasted, mourners brought flowers and signed condolences to pay their respects.