2000 Brick and Tile Workers Take Over Factory for Pension Benefits in Inner Mongolia

Around 2,000 former workers at Changzheng Building Materials Corp. have been occupying the collective-turned-private factory since July 15, 2002 demanding payment of pensions.

According to SCMP (July 19, 2002), the workers tried to march from the factory in Donghe district to the city government offices in Baotou city on July 15, but were held back by a heavy contingent of 200 police and 700 armed police stationed outside the factory.

Three workers and one bystander were arrested in the scuffle.

For three days, the workers have taken to the streets and blocked the road. At the height of the workers’ action, the highway between Baotou and the provincial capital of Huhehaote was blocked for the whole day, a police officer at Baotou city public security bureau told China Labour Bulletin on July 19.

However, the workers were not out in the streets any more after July 17 due to heavy police presence in the factory area. But the police officer told CLB that the workers may have further street actions this week.

The protest at this factory is not an isolated incident. The state enterprise reforms have left tens of thousands of workers jobless, and all too often without pensions. The mass workers’ protests in Daqing and Liaoyang, which started in March this year, have put the state workers’ struggle in perspective. As one government official in Baotou city explained to CLB, more and more workers took to the street, and the demonstrations were well organised. But this government official added that the organisers may not have ‘ulterior motives’.

This comment stands in sharp contrast to some common labels the government has tagged on labour activists and workers’ organisers. The imprisonment of labour lawyer in Baotou city, Xu Jian, is a living example.

In July 2000, Xu Jian received a 4-year jail term on charges of ‘inciting to subvert state power’ for his legal assistance to laid-off workers from two local giant state factories.

China Labour Bulletin

Online: 2002-07-22
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