Independent Trade Unionist Cao Maobing Released

Cao Maobing Released From Psychiatric Hospital


"The factory does have a union, but it exists in name only. The current
union takes no responsibility for the workers . . . So we told them we
will set up a trade union ourselves. Whether the trade union is independent
or not or whose administration it comes under is not important. What is
important is that it is elected by the workers themselves, and it acts
on their behalf."


Words and related actions that landed labour activist and trade unionist
Cao Maobing in a psychiatric hospital for 210 days. According to unconfirmed
reports from the US-based China
Labour Watch
(CLW), Cao has finally been released from the Yancheng
No.4 Psychiatric Hospital. CLW did not specify the exact date of Cao's
release but the reported length of his detention would put his release
at mid-July. A hospital official told the South China Morning Post that
she knew of no patient named Cao Maobing. Earlier in July, the hospital
had confirmed that Cao was a registered patient.

During 2000, Cao Maobing led a campaign by 300 workers at his workplace,
the Funing Silk Factory in Jiangsu province, to register an independent
trade union and fight for wage arrears, job protection and resist a programme
of compulsory redundancies that had affected over half the factory's workforce.

According to his wife, Yao Guifeng, Cao was held in a room with 20 other
patients and subjected to electric shock treatment and forced medication.
He also staged a hunger strike before Chinese New Year (2001), demanding
the right to return home for the festival.

Following his detention, workers at the Funing Silk Factory met with
the local public security bureau, the factory management and the local
branch of the official All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) to
appeal for his release. They also issued a statement calling for his immediate

Cao Maobing's case was the subject of attention from the international
trade union movement. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU) and various national trade union centres sent urgent faxes to
the Chinese authorities demanding his release.

(HK: SCMP, CLB, and various reports 19/07/01)

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