Guangzhou hospital healthcare workers settle dispute but security guards’ protest continues

20 August 2013

After more than two months of protest, about 150 healthcare workers at the Guangzhou Chinese Medicine University Hospital have accepted a compensation offer from their employer of 20,000 yuan each.

The agreement, signed on 7 August, included 10,000 yuan as severance pay with an additional 10,000 yuan in “humanitarian aid” in lieu of the social security payments they had been demanding, according to labour activists assisting the workers.

However, the security guards at the hospital rejected the compensation offer and continued with their protest against unfair pay levels. On 19 August, the security guards escalated the protest by threatening to jump off the hospital building and 12 of them were later detained by police. The security guards were detained on "supicion of gathering a crowd to disturb social order" and could be held by the police for several weeks. while the case is investigated.

The security guards, most of who were employed by a labour agency, were demanding the same pay and conditions as the few guards directly employed by the hospital, as stipulated by the revised Labour Contract Law, which went into effect the previous month. In a letter issued on 2 August, however, the labour agency refused to pay the workers the same salary as the hospital’s formal employees and instead urged workers to agree to the termination of their contracts.

Following the rooftop protest, the hospital told the Southern Metropolis Daily that the labour agency had responded to the guard’s complaints but did not disclose details. Labour activists said the hospital and the labour agency had talked with workers in an attempt to pacify them but still refused to negotiate with them in good faith.

On 14 August, the labour agency workers asked the Guangdong provincial trade union federation to help set up a collective bargaining mechanism but the union office only said it would continue to urge the employers to resolve the labour dispute in accordance with the law.

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