More than 10 Shoe Factory Workers Detained after a Dispute of Overtime Work, Dongguan, Guangdong

[Broadcast on 29 April 2004]

From 21 to 23 April, a workers-management dispute broke out in Xinxiong Shoe Factory, in Dalingshan Town of Dongguan City, Guangdong Province. According to a statement drawn by the factory management, the workers “destroyed factory property worth US$350,000”. Yet, an official from the Dalingshan Town Government pointed out such a statement was irresponsible in his interview with CLB.

County Government Official: It wasn’t a strike, just a few workers made trouble about the wages when they were drunk. In February, their overtime hours were all assigned to Sundays and Saturdays and based on the Labour Law, overtime work at weekends should be paid by wages not less than “2 times” compared with the ordinary working time. However, these days the electricity supply is tight and the district the factory doesn’t have electricity supply during the weekends, so it has to shift the weekend sessions to weekday nights. In accordance with Labour Law, the wages of overtime work on weekdays are up to 1.5 times of ordinary working time, so it is less than what they could earn by working overtimes at weekends. Workers felt that they worked more and earned less now, as the rate was not the same, some made a calculation and found they would get some 10s yuan less. On their way to the factory, they met some managerial staff, who had been strict to them in the factory. They started a quarrel and then a conflict that was how it started.

Han Dongfang [Han]: From the factory’s statement, it said the workers destroyed the factory’s property worth US$350,000?

County Government Official: Such a statement is irresponsible.

Han: Has the case been settled?

County Government Official: Yes. The conflict happened on the night of 21 April, by the 23th, they all went back to work. A few people started the conflict and later some other people joined in; also they had some hundred bystanders.

Han: Have workers been discontented working there?

County Government Official: I guess so.

Han: What about?

County Government Official: The management is rather strict.

The factory also reported a Taiwanese manager had been injured to the extent that the best local hospital could not heal him and he had to fly back to Taiwan for medical treatment. However, a Labour Bureau official in Dongguan said he had not heard about that.

Labour Bureau Official: The case is settled. It has been a long time since it happened and it won’t do any good if your report might cause some unnecessary confusion. Right?

Han: It was said that a Taiwanese manager had been injured to the extent that the best local hospital could not heal him and he had to fly back to Taiwan. Was there such a serious case?

Labour Bureau Official: I don’t think so.

On 29 April, a sergeant from the Dalingshan Public Security Bureau confirmed with CLB that more than 10 workers were still in detention.

Sergeant: Oh yes, we took in more than 10.

Han: Have they been released?

Sergeant: Not yet. They are here for “security detention”.

Han: “Security Detention”??

Sergeant: Right.

Han: Do you know why the workers did this [the reason for the conflict]?

Sergeant: I heard the boss deducted their wages, a few hundred each.

The factory reported that after the conflict, the local labour bureau had visited the factory to ensure it didn’t violate the Labour Law, but a staff from the town trade union said the enterprises in the town seldom followed the Labour Law.

Trade Union Staff: [laugh]. That Labour Law, well you know in here… if they really follow the Labour Law, most of the factories would not be able to operate.

Han: Does that factory have a trade union?

Trade Union Staff: Yes.

A personnel department staff of Xinxiong Factory told CLB that they had no trade union.

Personnel Department: It has been fixed long ago, the labour bureau did it.

Han: Does your factory have a trade union?

Personnel Department: No.

Han: No trade union??

Personnel Department: No.

Han: Why didn’t the workers organize one?

Personnel Department: Well, don’t you trust the Police and the labour bureau? They know how to fix it.

An inspector, Mr Huang from the Social Security Bureau of Dalingshan told CLB that the factory had paid pension premiums and medical insurance for its workers.

Inspector from Social Security Bureau: Xinxiong Shoe Factory… is here [the Social Security Bureau had its record].

Han: Do you remember if it paid for the workers’ pensions and medical premiums?

Inspector from Social Security Bureau: Yes, yes!

Han: Sure?

Inspector from Social Security Bureau: Yes. To get its business registration and taxation record, it had to register its social security terms here, it is compulsory. We couldn’t have missed it.

A junior level managerial staff told CLB that only senior staff could enjoy pension and medical insurance. From her description, we also learned that workers in the production line worked 60 hours a week and earned only about 500 yuan.

Han: Do you live in the factory?

Managerial Staff: Yes.

Han: In the dormitory?

Managerial Staff: I don’t dare go there to take a look, very messy.

Han: Are you an ordinary worker?

Managerial Staff: Kind of. A managerial staff.

Han: Do you think the workers’ action was justifiable?

Managerial Staff: I guess so. You know the workers in the factory are quite tired and their wages are quite low.

Han: How much do they earn monthly?

Managerial Staff: 500 to 600 yuan.

Han: And how many working hours per day?

Managerial Staff: 11 hours.

Han: 11 hours?

Managerial Staff: Right.

Han: How many days off per week?

Managerial Staff: One day, on Sundays.

Han: So from Monday to Saturday, they have to work 11 hours per day. Is that right?

Managerial Staff: Not everyday. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, they work 8 hours.

Han: And the rest is 11 hours?

Managerial Staff: Yeah.

Han: Do they have a whole day off on Sundays?

Managerial Staff: Yes.

Han: Does the factory pay for your pension and medical premiums?

Managerial Staff: Pension and medical premium? Yes.

Han: Are you covered by the medical insurance?

Managerial Staff: No, it is only for some staff.

Han: Then who can enjoy it and who can’t?

Managerial Staff: Pension premium only covers senior staff.

Han: You mean only the management?

Managerial Staff: Yes.

Han: Are you in that rank?

Managerial Staff: I am new here.

Han: So you don’t get it yet?

Managerial Staff: No, I don’t.

Han: How long have you worked there?

Managerial Staff: A few months.

Han: Generally speaking, how long does one have to work, or which rank should one be in, to be entitled to those?

Managerial Staff: That takes many years and only the top ranked staff enjoys those.

Han: How about the medical insurance?

Managerial Staff: We don’t have that. We only get the “accident insurance”, you know, if the workers get injured at workplace.

Han: So no medical insurance?

Managerial Staff: No.
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