ICFTU on Daqing Oilfield Workers' Protest


ICFTU OnLine...


China: ICFTU deeply concerned about workers's protest at the Daqing Petroleum Company

Brussels 15 March, 2002 (ICFTU OnLine): With pressure building on China's authorities to negotiate with a newly-established independent trade union of oil workers, Guy Ryder, the ICFTU General Secretary, has written to the President of the People's Republic of China, Jiang Zeming, to express his deep concern over the situation of 50,000 workers of the Daqing Oilfield, in Heilongjiang Province, who have been engaged in a collective action since 1st March 2002, in protest at their employers' unilateral breach of their retrenchment contracts.

Thousands of retrenched workers of the Daqing Oilfield have gathered every day since 1st March in front of the Daqing Petroleum Administration Bureau (PAB) to protest at the suppression by the company of winter heating subsidies, and at the arbitrary increase in the amount that each worker is required to pay annually into the company's social security fund. Having elected representatives, the workers concerned have formed the Daqing PAB Retrenched Workers' Provisional Union Committee. The independent union's leaders have so far remained in hiding for fear of arrest.

By mid-March, 50,000 workers of the Daqing Oilfield had joined the movement and solidarity demonstrations have been held by workers in the Xinjiang and Shengli Oilfields, as well as in the Liahe Oilfields, in Liaoning Province. In the last few days, the protesters have also accused China's largest oil firm, PetroChina (which oversees the oilfield), of awarding extravagant bonuses to managers, while they themselves received negligible one-off compensation for losing their jobs and benefits PetroChina has laid off 55,000 people altogether in the past two years in a bid to streamline operation and cut costs).

The ICFTU said it was a matter of serious concern that para-military police and soldiers of an armoured regiment of the People's Liberation Army had been sent to the area in order to coerce the workers into abandoning the protest.

"Sending armed personnel is not an appropriate method of negotiating the social consequences of economic restructuring. These must be discussed and agreed upon with legitimate, representative workers' organizations", wrote Guy Ryder. This letter to China's President came as the recently-established China Working Party of the ICFTU's Committee on Human and Trade Union Rights was holding its first meeting in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region. "The establishment by workers of organizations of their own choosing for the protection of their economic and social interests is an internationally recognized human right, guaranteed by ILO Convention
no.87", Ryder stressed in his letter sent from Hong Kong to President Jiang.

The ICFTU also urged the China's President to take the necessary measures in order that his administration enter into immediate negotiations with the Daqing oil workers. Guy Ryder also warned that any repressive measures by the Chinese authorities against the members and leaders of the Daqing PAB Retrenched Workers' Provisional Union Committee would result in the immediate submission of a complaint by the ICFTU to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

In a related development, Etsuya Washio, President of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation Rengo, and Lodewijk de Waal, President of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions, FNV, who jointly served as Co-Chairs of the ICFTU's China Working Party, wrote to the President of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), Wei Jiangshing, requesting him to provide his views on the situation and inform them about how his organization would deal with the events at the Daqing oilfield.

The ICFTU represents 157 million workers in 225 affiliated organisations in 148 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 476 62 10 18.


Online: 2002-03-15

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