CLB Press Release on Workers’ Protests in Liaoyang and Lanzhou (2002-04-23)

23 April, 2002

China Labour Bulletin Press Release

Workers’ Representative Released in Liaoyang

Gu Baoshu, workers’ representative from Liaoyang Ferrous-Alloy Factory, who was arrested on 16 April by the Liaoyang municipal government, was released on the same day.

Guo Xiujing, wife of Yao Fuxin, another arrested workers’ representative from the Ferrous-Alloy Factory, told China Labour Bulletin (CLB) that after factory workers learned about the arrest of Gu Baoshu, scores of them rushed to the building where he lived and tussled with the police who arrested him, but finally the police took Gu away.

The workers submitted on the spot an application for a demonstration to the Chief Secretary of the municipal government, who came to the factory to pacify the workers. However, the Chief Secretary immediately declared that the application should bear the name of the organisers; otherwise it would be invalid.

The workers refused to enter any names on the application; moreover they stated that, were Gu Baoshu not released and were the permission to demonstrate not approved, they would collectively visit Beijing to petition or they would block the railway.

Under such pressure from the workers, Gu Baoshu was released on the same night.

Gu Baoshu’s arrest on 16 April

Around 8:40 in the morning, someone knocked on Gu Baoshu’s door. Gu went to the door and, looking through the cat’s eye, he saw two strangers outside in plain clothes. He got worried that some corrupt officials sent people to take revenge on him, so he immediately dialled 110 to call the police.

To his surprise, the two men opened the door with a key. Gu asked the two men for identification but one of them said: “Do we need papers for the sort like you?” After they entered, they ripped out the telephone line, wrestled Gu to the ground and beat him up. Then, they took two ties and a jacket from Gu’s home and wrapped Gu’s head in the jacket. They fastened one tie around his neck and one around his feet. At that time, Gu heard someone at the door telling the guy who beat him up: “No worries, if anybody asks just say that it was a fight between the couple.” They carried the tied-up Gu downstairs, but they run into the workers’ blockade in front of the building. The police (stationed) outside pushed aside the blockading workers and took Gu away in a police car.

In the evening, they gave Gu five yuan and a pair of flip-flops and Gu went home by himself taking a bus.

Guo Xiujing also said that Wang Dawei, another key person in the Ferrous-Alloy Factory workers’ struggle, went to Beijing to file complaints at numerous central-government departments but was completely ignored. After he called Gou Xiujing’s family once last week to tell them about his progress with the complaints, he disappeared.

The government has basically met all demands initially put forward by the Ferrous-Alloy Factory workers since they first started their street demonstrations against corruption and their fight for their rights in the middle of March; all the medical expenses have been settled, half of the salaries in arrears have been paid, the workers’ pension insurance cards have been issued.

However, the arrested workers’ representatives have not been released; moreover, the government has still been arresting more people.

Lanzhou Oil Workers’s Fight Intensifies

The 22 April street demonstration and road blockade organised by the Lanzhou Chemical Industrial Corporation’s retrenched workers continued on 23 April. The number of participants swelled from over 100 on 22 April to 400 on the following day. Workers unfurled banners demanding retrenchment severance benefits identical to workers in the national sector, with 3,600 yuan compensation for each year of service.

According to an official of the Lanzhou Chemical Industrial Corporation, the local workers were inspired by the Daqing oilfield workers to take similar actions for their own legitimate rights. There are over one thousand retrenched workers in the Corporation.

Like the Daqing Petroleum Administrative Bureau, the Lanzhou Chemical Industrial Corporation is also a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation. Workers of both locations organised street demonstrations in dissatisfaction with the policy of retrenchment with severance pay.

China Labour Bulletin

23 April 2002

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