Untitled Document
Taking a Closer Look at the Stories Ignored by the Corporate Media
Donate | Fair Use Notice | Who We Are | Contact

NEWS
All News
9-11
Corporatism
Disaster in New Orleans
Economics
Environment
Globalization
Government / The Elite
Human Rights
International Affairs
Iraq War
London Bombing
Media
Police State / Military
Science / Health
Voting Integrity
War on Terrorism
Miscellaneous

COMMENTARY
All Commentaries
9-11
CIA
Corporatism
Economics
Government / The Elite
Imperialism
Iraq War
Media
Police State / Military
Science / Health
Voting Integrity
War on Terrorism

SEARCH/ARCHIVES
Advanced Search
View the Archives

E-mail this Link   Printer Friendly

CORPORATISM -
-

Massive Strike at Chinese Walmart Factory

Posted in the database on Wednesday, May 04th, 2005 @ 17:23:26 MST (3021 views)
from No Sweat  

Untitled Document Over 10,000 workers of the Japanese-invested Uniden Electronics factory in Fuyong Town, Shenzhen, have been staging a massive strike action since 17 April 2005 in an effort to win the right to set up their own trade union in the factory. To China Labour Bulletin's knowledge, this is the first time Chinese workers have ever staged a strike specifically in order to form a trade union.

On 20 April, large numbers of riot police sealed off the factory entrance to prevent the protesting workers, mostly women, from marching out of the factory, apparently reflecting official fear their strike action could trigger anti-Japanese protests elsewhere in the city. According to media reports, this is the fourth or fifth such strike to have occurred at the factory since it was first opened in 1987.

The workers are staging the strike in protest against the Uniden management's refusal to allow them to establish a trade union branch, and they have vowed to continue the strike until the company accedes to this demand. According to a message posted on a mainland online bulletin board, the strike began after managers at the Japanese cordless phone making firm, which supplies in large quantity to the giant American retailer Wal-Mart, recently issued and distributed a statement to the Chinese workforce containing "threatening and insulting language."

In December 2004, following reports that a Japanese supervisor had beaten up several workers at the Uniden factory, several thousand workers there staged a similar strike protest. At that time, the workers sent a collective petition to the factory management listing a total of fifteen demands. Among them: 1) that workers should be allowed to set up a trade union at the factory, as agreed to by Uniden management in the year 2000; 2) that 60 percent of normal wages should be paid during sick leave and maternity leave (currently, the workers receive no pay at these times, indeed they reportedly have to pay the company "living allowance" fines); 3) in accordance with China's Labour Law, workers with ten or more years of seniority should be offered permanent contracts and no arbitrary dismissals should take place; and 4) that the quality of meals and the water supply in the workers' hostel should be improved.

After the December 2004 strike, Uniden management promised to raise the workers' salaries and said it would permit the workers to set up a trade union. But according to another message posted on the online bulletin board, a new Japanese manager was appointed at the factory shortly thereafter, and he proceeded to break all the company's promises. Several workers who had led the strike were subsequently sacked, and instead of providing the workers with one-year contracts as it had agreed, the company downgraded many of their contracts to only three months. Moreover, Uniden's promise to let the workers form their own trade union was withdrawn without explanation. The one positive outcome of the December strike – the workers' wages were raised to the Shenzhen legal minimum of around 480 Yuan per month – was quickly undermined by management demands that new and excessively long periods of overtime be worked.

Sorry – It's the Law!

The Uniden workers' demand to be allowed to set up a trade union at the factory is fully in accordance with China's existing laws. In fact, Article 10 of the PRC Trade Union Law positively requires that a union branch be set up in any workplace employing twenty-five or more workers. In addition, shortly before Wal-Mart's announcement last winter that it would finally allow trade unions to be established in its stores in China, following weeks of high-profile criticism by mainland authorities against multinational companies for resisting any such moves, the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress passed a local law - the "Implementing Regulations for the Trade Union Law" – which gave further teeth to the existing legislation in this area. According to Article 5 of the new regulations, which came into force on 1 November 2004, any ten or more workers employed at factories in Guangdong Province that currently have no official trade union branch are now accorded the legal right to begin the process of establishing a trade union on their own.

Since the Uniden workers' demand to be allowed set up a trade union at the factory is fully protected by Chinese law, China Labour Bulletin calls upon the Shenzhen government to refrain from taking any form of police action or other repressive measures against the thousands of workers currently staging a mass sit-in occupation of the factory premises. The police blockade of the factory should be lifted forthwith, and both the local authorities and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) should send representatives to actively negotiate with the Uniden management on the striking workers' behalf.

In a similarly large-scale workers' protest action at the Xianyang Huarun Textile Factory in Xianyang city, Shaanxi Province, in September and October last year, about 7,000 workers, mostly women, staged a seven week-long strike against the management's attempts to impose unfair new labour contracts. In the final days of the strike, more than twenty of the workers' leaders were arrested by the police after the local authorities learned that they were about to elect a factory-level trade union and attempt to register it with the official trade union body, the ACFTU. Apparently in response to a softening of central government policy on the handling of "sudden incidents" in society, as conveyed to the Shaanxi police force by the Minister of Public Security around the same time, the local authorities eventually freed all of the worker detainees.

In the case of the strike action now underway at the Uniden factory, the Shenzhen government should take all possible steps to avoid the kind of confrontation and repression that occurred in Xianyang last October. "The Shenzhen authorities have a golden opportunity to respond to the Uniden workers' legitimate desire to found a trade union in an enlightened and constructive manner," said Han Dongfang, CLB's director. "The law entitles Chinese workers to form trade unions, and the law must be respected."

For further information on the Xianyang case, see CLB



Go to Original Article >>>

The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Looking Glass News. Click the disclaimer link below for more information.
Email: editor@lookingglassnews.org.

E-mail this Link   Printer Friendly




Untitled Document
Disclaimer
Donate | Fair Use Notice | Who We Are | Contact
Copyright 2005 Looking Glass News.