Response from Artigas Workers to the statement of Lever Style Inc

Artigas Workers’ Statement: in response to the Statement from Lever Style Inc., issued on 26 June 2015

28 June 2015

We are workers from Artigas Company who continue to demand collective negotiation with the employer, in order to resolve the current labour disputes. We are deeply dissatisfied with the statement issued by Lever Style Inc. on 26 June 2015 (hereafter: Lever Statement), as it distorted the reality and legal regulations. Thus, we issue this statement to clarify the following items:

1. On 2 June, the enterprise refused to receive our registered mail, containing an invitation to collective negotiation. As a result, we posted the same invitation at the enterprise’s notice board, read it in front of the management and handed it to them directly. However, the enterprise has refused to make any constructive response to this invitation. The Lever Statement mentioned it held “another round of meetings with the workers” on 25 June was merely a group of workers, who had been accused of “absenteeism” and with their names being posted on the notice board, came to reason out with the management. Due to their demands of collective negotiation, the enterprise removed the card punching machine from the factory and their attendance could not be recorded. The management used this trick to accuse them of “absenteeism”. At the so-called meeting, the company director replied only “not sure, not clear, no idea” to workers’ questions such as if the enterprise would accept the invitation to collective negotiation and how the enterprise would address workers’ collective demands. Before 25 June, the enterprise had never engaged in any dialogue regarding workers’ collective demands. All these indicate that the enterprise has no intention and takes no actual actions to resolve the disputes. The Lever Statement is merely a lie to entertain the public.

2.Lever Statement falsely stated that its relocation had met “all local and national Government legal requirements”. Yet, Article 4 of China’s Labour Contract Law, Article 28 of Regulations on the Promotion of Harmonious Employment Relationships in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and other regulations have stated, the formulations, amendments and decisions made by employers which have a direct impact on employees’ immediate rights and interests, shall be presented to and discussed with the employee representative congress or all the employees, and the proposal and advice thereof shall be determined after consultation with the labor union or employee representative on the basis of equality and collective consultation should not be denied. Artigas’ changes on labour relations (by signing contracts with Lever Style Inc.) and labour conditions (by relocation) are indeed having a direct impact on employees’ immediate rights and interests, which requires consultation between employees and employer for the final decision to be made, instead of a decision which the employer can solely make. However, the employer has only informed the workers about this relocation by putting out a notice, giving workers final warnings, removing card punching machines. All these authoritarian measures forcing workers to accept the new arrangement, is a direct violation of laws.

3. “To repay the missing pension premiums into the social security system, dating back to the commencement of their employment; to repay workers the overtimes wages which had been deducted since the commencement of their employment” were among the six demands in our invitation letter. Lever Style Inc. claimed to “meet all of its legal obligations with respect to the payment of retirement benefits”. Yet, evidence shows that the social, pension insurance premiums were not paid for the majority of senior workers for many years, which leaves them not entitled to pension or with very low pension. Lever Style Inc. and Artigas Factory refuse to acknowledge their long-term violation of labour rights and continue to turn a blind eye to workers’ lawful demands. The Lever Statement, claiming that it has fulfilled all legal requirements, is an irresponsible and shameless lie to the public.

4. The Lever Statement claimed that “no workers were dismissed due to the relocation”. Yet on 8 June, Artigas Factory announced to dismiss Wu Weifa, a workers’ representative and denied her entry into the factory. (this news was released on 9 June, via the microblog of “Rights defending action of Artigas workers”)

5. Currently, there is neither strike, nor absenteeism in Artigas Factory. We continue to operate as the terms and conditions required in the previous labour relations. As we disapprove the enterprise’s undemocratic relocation plan, we are safeguarding the machinery and our workplace, to avoid being accused of “absenteeism”. We strive to defend our labour rights and to protest against the enterprise, which illegally ignored our demand of collective negotiation. 

We strongly condemn Lever Style Inc. for publishing a dishonest statement, which distorts the truth, deceives the public and fails its corporate social responsibility.

We sincerely call for a genuine meeting with the Lever Style Inc., to work out solution with workers.

Signed by

All workers who are defending their rights at Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leatherware Company