The story of Artigas worker representative Wu Weifa
Due participation in the industrial action, Artigas factory prohibited Workers’ representative Wu Weifa (the middle one) from accessing the factory on 9 June after dismissing her from her position.
Wu Weifa is a typical woman from rural China: uneducated and illiterate. If it wasn't because of the Reformation, the nearby town might have been the fartherest place she had traveled.
Due to poverty, she became one of the hundreds of millions migrant workers who flooded into big cities in search for jobs. Shenzhen, as foreign as it can be, has become the home of Wu Weifa for more than 20 years,
When she first started working at the Artigas Leatherware Factory (UNIQLO's supplier), she did not expect to work there for more than 20 years. Nor could she foresee she would be dismissed, arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for supporting workers' rights. All she was looking forward to was a just and rightful retirement pension in exchange for her 20 years-long service.
When she turned 50 years old in 2013, although Wu has reached the statutory retirement age in China and worked for Artigas for more than 20 years, she was not entitled to any pension benefit. As a means to save cost, her company just started to make contribution to her Social Security only a few years ago, which was a common practice among many corporate in the Pearl RiverDelta Region. Thus, she could only remain at the factory on a rolling contract, which was not covered by the labour law since she has passed retirement age. Thus, she participated in the strike in December, 2014 to fight for all her Social Security and Housing Compensation in arrears. However, the management only employed delay tactics and refuse to follow up on the issue.
Due her participation in the industrial action, the factory prohibited Wu Weifa from accessing the factory and dismissed her from her position. The dismissal triggered more than a thousand workers to go on strike in support of her. Not only the company did not explain the reasons for her sudden dismissal, they even collaborated with the local police force and arrested Wu. The workers carried on with the strike for almost two months until it was eventually crackdown by the local police force. The police held Wu Weifa as hostage and intimidated the workers' representatives to resign from the company and ultimately forced the workers to give in. Wu Weifa was later prosecuted of “Obstructing Public Affairs” and imprisoned until October 8.
After this incident, Wu Weifa was physically and mentally fatigued. However, there there're are many more Wu Weifa's in China.