Chongqing Oil Workers Not Falling for Company's Delay Tactics

Several hundred retrenched workers from Chuandong Oil Drilling & Exploration Company (CODEC) in Chongqing have maintained daily sit-ins (except weekends) since September 2. The workers are demanding unemployment allowances from the local government. At the same time, they began a collection to fund legal action against their former employers for coercing them into accepting the retrenchment deal.

According to a CODEC security staff, the workers raised a banner protesting that the "oil industry leaders did not hold on closely to the political line of the central government" (Note). He also confirmed that the legal fund appeal was still on-going. However, the oil company has not responded to the workers' demands at all, and the security staff was not taking any action. He said, "[We are] playing for time to wear them out. Let's see how long they can keep it up."

China Labour Bulletin talked with additional workers on September 24 to get a picture of the current situation.

One of them still has his job while somebody else in his family has been made redundant. In his neighbourhood, most of the retrenched workers have contributed to the legal fund. "We'll just have to smoke less, and in any case, we have to see justice done", he said.

The fundraising activities were organised by senior workers at the company, a retrenched worker told CLB. Younger workers were staying behind the scene to avoid arrests. He said, "We are scared...that [the police] will arrest a couple of [organisers]. We are all prepared for that..." When asked what he would do if arrests were made, the retrenched worker said, "We'll struggle to the end...Better to die fighting than starving to death!...You know, many laid-off workers have jumped to their deaths..."

COEDC made the retrenchment move in November 1999. The retrenched workers decided to take up collective action to demand unemployment allowances, an adjustment of the premium for their pensions and job placement or reinstatement for retrenched young workers. About 800 workers started sit-in protests outside the COEDC building on September 2 when the company failed to offer any satisfactory response to the workers' demands.

China Labour Bulletin



The 'political line' refers to the government's "determination" to solve the problem of unemployment at a national conference in Beijing on September 12. The conference, chaired by Premier Zhu Rongji, was attended by key party and government leaders. The conference made particular reference to "special assistance" to middle-aged laid-off state workers (over 40 for women and over 50 for men) in re-employment. (source: Xinhua News Online, 13/9/2002)


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