Agency workers at SOEs take action demanding equal pay

Even years after major legislation was passed to curb abuse of agency labour and guarantee equal pay, agency workers are still fighting for their basic legal rights across China, particularly at SOEs.

According to Chinese law, agency work is supposed to be a “supplementary” form of labour, though agency workers often find themselves working for years alongside full employees, performing the same work for significantly less pay and benefits.

Agency workers, however, are well aware of their rights, and their collective actions are not uncommon. For months, agency workers at China’s FAW-Volkswagen plant, a majority state-owned joint venture, in the northeast city of Changchun have made international headlines in their long campaign for equal pay. Below we highlight two other agency worker actions demanding equal pay at SOEs that occurred in July.

Agency workers demand double compensation at company headquarters

China Mobile workers in Guangyuan, Sichuan, held a demonstration at the company’s provincial headquarters demanding compensation as the company attempts to outsource their work.

When Guangyuan China Mobile branch decided to stop working with two local labour agency companies, workers were told on 24 July in a meeting that they were to be layoff immediately. 70 workers gathered at the provincial headquarters to demand compensation for unequal pay during their years of service. Workers also demanded double compensation, in accordance with Chinese law, as the company failed to give them at least one month’s notice before termination.

Similar incidents have occurred at China Mobile in the past, including a protest a year ago by workers in neighboring Guang’an, Sichuan, just 300 kilometers from Guangyuan.

Oil field workers face down police, demand equal pay

On 24 July more than one hundred agency workers representing over 3,000 agency workers at oil fields across the county gathered at the Shaanxi Yanchang petroleum headquarters demanding equal pay.

The workers have served at the company for around a decade, but still received entry level low pay and a lack of benefits. In an open letter to the company, workers reported that full employees received around 5,000 yuan a month while agency workers only 2,000 yuan. In addition, agency workers reported the lowest bonuses and performance pay rates. Moreover, agency workers worked longer hours, but never received any overtime pay.

Workers held banners at the company headquarters and demanded a response from the company, but were met with police. Minor clashes ensued.

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