A 12 day strike by 600 workers at a Foshan shoe factory finally ended on 22 December after employees reluctantly accepted an offer by management to pay them just half of what they had been demanding.
After about half the workforce accepted the offer on 20 December, management increased the pressure on the others. More than 400 riot police were reportedly deployed to the factory and workers were told 22 December would be the final deadline for accepting the offer.
The workers at Shyang Ho Footwear stopped working on 10 December after management prepared to sell off factory machinery prior to closing the plant. The workers demanded the compensation they were entitled to under the law for termination of their contracts, namely one month’s salary for every year at the factory.
Eventually the company offered the workers 50 percent of their average monthly salary multiplied by the number of years they had been employed at the factory. Employees who had only worked at the factory for a few years reluctantly agreed to accept the offer but many of the longer-serving employees initially refused to sign.
One worker told Southern Metropolis Daily that his average salary over the last 12 months was 3,200 yuan per month and according to the law he should be compensated 25,600 yuan. The company was only offering 12,800 yuan: “This is the money from my blood and sweat, how can you say it is small thing.” He vowed to file a lawsuit against the company to get his money back if necessary.
Some 233 workers who had agreed to the company’s offer collected their money from the factory offices on 20 and 21 December. Managers reportedly dragged a box containing more than one million yuan in cash through the crowd of assembled workers and started handing out the agreed amounts to workers in turn.
A worker checks the company compensation pay out. Photo from Foshan News
Most sums were under 10,000 yuan, further emphasizing that only those with less to lose were willing to take the deal. Most of those taking the money told reporters they planned to head back home for the Lunar New Year holiday and then return to Foshan to look for another job in the New Year.