採訪/朱智善 編輯/宋鳳 後製/郭敬
Chinese Workers Strikes Increasing; Global Brand Factory Facing Problems
Yue Yuen Shoe Factory in Dongguan, Guangdong
Province, is one of the world’s largest shoemakers.
For two weeks, about 50,000 of
it’s workers have been on strike.
Due to these protests, the company had to make
concessions to increase workers’ welfare payments.
Sources say that since the beginning
of 2014, there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of workers striking.
Have Chinese employees come to know more
about their rights and embrace legal actions?
Let’s take a look at our report.
Yue Yuen Shoe Factory is an international brand
sports footwear maker, and has several plants in China.
Yue Yuen belongs to Baocheng Group in Taiwan.
It has more than 160,000 employees in China,
producing over 60 international brands.
This encompasses 20% of the sports
footwear and casual shoe market globally.
Employees social security benefits
in Yue Yuen are processed illegally.
The company only pays permanent workers
benefits as if they are temporary employees.
Sometimes, the company completely
fails to make any payment.
In 2007, this issue was reported
by China’s state-run television.
Over the past ten years, the situation
in Yue Yuen has remained unchanged.
On April 5, staff stopped working
and blockaded the entry road.
They requested the company to
recompense their social security benefits.
The company said that they will reply on April 14.
However, the company has not yet responded.
Angry workers therefore resorted to holding banners,
and approximately 50,000 demonstrating on the street.
Police and protesters clashed,
and some workers were injured.
The strikes continued, and the Baocheng
Group finally made concessions.
On April 21, the company announced that from
May 1, workers’ social security benefits and
housing allowances will be paid in full on time.
They also agreed that according to workers’ requests,
they will recompense pensions and housing allowance.
Baocheng Group also said that from May 1,
each workers monthly pay in the Dongguan
factories will increase by 230 yuan (US$37).
Li Qiang, founder of New York-based China Labor Watch:
“When Yue Yuen shoe factories resolved this dispute,
it is their board members that made this decision.
Actually, they didn’t seek any opinions from their workers.
Although they have issued policies on April 21 to
make financial concessions, from the point of view
of respecting workers, I think it is still not enough.”
Li Qiang says that in China, there is no
business culture of respecting employees.
If there was an elected labor union to help
the staff, the situation will not be the same.
However, China lacks this union system,
and there is no platform for negotiation
between the employers and employees.
Yue Yuen workers’ striking over
welfare payments is not an isolated case.
On March 6, about 1,000 staff in
IBM Shenzhen factory went on strike.
On March 24, 700 workers of a Japanese company
in China, Shanghai Uchino, went on strike.
On April 10, over 1,000 workers at
Shanghai Samsung SDI went on strike.
On April 21, over a thousand of workers at
Beijing Electric Motor factory went on strike.
In addition, US retail company Wal-mart in
China is currently negotiating with a labor union.
Bulletin,119 workers strikes took place in March.
It considers that in China, labor disputes
have increased by nearly a third this year.
This has been the biggest surge in
protests since the global financial crisis.
Guo Zhanrong, spokesperson of
China Labor Bulletin commented.
Chinese workers are gradually coming to know
their rights, and dare to say “No” to their boss.
Guo Zhanrong: “Now workers have their
way to deal with it, they have their rights.
They know more about their rights and they can take
action, including going on strike and staging protests.”
Jonathan Isaacs is a Special Counsel, for
Chinese employment and labor issues, at
Baker & McKenzie law firm in Hong Kong.
Mr Isaacs says that, “it’s hard for workers to really press
their demands without mandatory arbitration or a strike.”
He Yuanrui is editor for jttp.cn, a negotiation forum website.
He says that workers who participate
in negotiations could face dismissal.
Chinese laws lack protection for the rights
of strikers, and protesters feel helpless when
they are sacked or punished by employers.
In addition, as soon as workers stage a protest on the
street, they will face police force in “maintaining stability”.
Guo believes that without labor unions representing
worker’s interests, those interests are just empty talk.
Scholars of China’s economic development process
suggest that an important factor for cheap labor
in China is that the cost of workers’ welfare is low,
This violates labor’s rights.
Interview/Zhu Zhishan Edit/SongFeng Post-Production/GuoJing