News Brief (September 27th – October 5th, 2012)

Editor: Leo Liu (Intern)

Another strike at Zhejiang Sunflower Solar Power Company. (SolarStar, Sept. 27) – On September 27, a large number of workers of Zhengjiang Sunflower Solar Power Technology, Ltd. carried out a strike to protest against salary reductions. An informant told the reporter that the workers had carried out strikes internally in the company some time earlier. They had also been to the town government. To generate greater influence, the workers carried out this strike, wearing their uniforms and blocking the streets. Solar power companies in Zhejiang have been experiencing declining revenues and profits due to the overall environment of the solar power industry. The incomes of paid-by-unit workers are adversely affected in particular, leading to series of strikes and protests.

· New regulations in Zhuhai: taxi drivers may not strike. (Southern Metropolis Daily, Sept. 27) – Taxi drivers in Zhuhai may have their license suspended if they carry out a strike in the future. Zhuhai Special Economic Region Taxi Regulations (Draft), which had been shelved for two years, is under an initial review by the Zhuhai People’s Council. The Draft stipulates that taxi drivers “shall not carry out strikes of any manner.” Legal professionals interpret the Draft as a response to wide-spread strikes by taxi drivers in the past few years.

· Guangdong plans to impose fines of 5,000 RMB on companies which employ eocnomic penalties on workers. (Southern Metropolis Daily, Sept. 28) – On September 27, Guangdong People’s Council reviewed the Guangdong Labor Protection Enforcement Regulations (Draft). The Draft stipulates that a employer will be fined 2,000 to 5,000 RMB for imposing economic penalties on workers. The actual figure will depend on the number of workers on whom the economic penalties are imposed. It is often reported that companies or other entities fine their employees as they please. The regulations may be able to change such a situation.

· Two workers arrested for blocking the bridge to demand payment of wages. (, Sept. 29) – Around 4pm on the 25th, a crowd of people suddenly showed up at a major intersection at the Xi Shuang Ban Na Bridge and blocked the traffic. The police questioned a few and learned that the participants are workers from a local construction project. According to the contract, 15% of the project payment was to be held as deposit until the project is approved. The police told the reporter that the contractor did not explain the situation to the workers, and he just left with his cell phone turned off. Being upset that they could not get the money and in a hurry to go home for the holidays, the workers blocked the bridge. The Jing Hong City Police Department decided on the 26th to detain Yang Guanjun and Chen Zhongquan, leaders of the action, for 10 days for disturbing public order. The police also reprimanded 20 other workers involved.

· Over five million in overdue wages for 400 workers: the company has raised the money and will pay soon. (, Sept. 30) – Due to disputes between a developer and contractor, 400 workers were never paid their wages of over five million renminbi. They were sent home after the construction was completed. Yesterday, over a dozen workers came to the contractor demanding payment of wages, but their request was rejected. The head of the contractor, Mr. Liu, claimed that the wage arrears occurred because the developer did not pay as agreed upon previously, and the contractor has brought a lawsuit against the developer. Mr. Liu also said that his company has managed to raise over six million renminbi and will pay the workers shortly.

· An’hui provincial government issued a notice: migrant workers’ wage arrears will be paid by “someone.” (CNWEST, Sept. 30) – The provincial government of An’hui issued a notice requiring a higher standard in regulating the default on project payments and arrears of migrant worker wages. The notice specifies who shall be responsible for the workers’ wages in various situations. Generally speaking, the general contractor shall be responsible for wage arrears. If workers are not paid their wages due to the developer not paying for the project, then developers shall pay the workers immediately. If the project payment has been made and the contractors, for some reason, fail to pay the workers, the local government of the place where the project sits shall raise the funds and pay the workers according to the principle of jus soli.

· We should feel more than moved when a sanitation worker goes to work with an IV drip. (, Oct. 4) – A Changsha sanitation worker, Liu Yongliang, went to work during the long National Day holiday period despite his having a bad cold. Internet users posted on Weibo a photo of him hanging his IV bottle on the tree. This image invoked extensive public attention. The head of Liu’s employer, Fu Rong District Sanitation Department, told the reporter that Liu can apply to switch his shift, but his salary would definitely be adversely affected. We cannot simply feel moved by this. We need to rethink the living conditions of workers at the bottom of the society, such as sanitation workers. We can say that some government entities do not give proper consideration to the protection of sanitation workers’ basic rights.

· Reporter helps a worker from Jiangxia to demand payment of overdue wages in Hankou. (Xinmin Evening News, Oct. 4) A worker started to work in the summer but had not receive any salary payment until the end of September. Mr. Liu, a migrant worker from Jiangxia who came to Hanko, called our newspaper, saying that he had been working for a hotel for two months but had not received wages of over 2,000 RMB. He had resigned and hoped that the newspaper could help him. The reporter contacted the hotel and helped to coordinate the dispute. Yesterday, Mr. Liu called and told us that the hotel has made the payment.

· Zhejiang: companies that default on workers’ wages will be exposed to the public and restricted from obtaining a loan. (Xinmin Evening News, Oct. 4) – Zhejiang decided to use a company’s salary payment status as a major index in evaluating that company’s credit score. Companies that default and disappear, companies whose total amount of unpaid wages exceeds 500,000 RMB, or companies that refuse to remedy a sistuation as directed will be exposed to the public and in the central bank’s company credit system. Additionally, their ability to engage in secure transactions and financing will be limited.

· 30,000 sanitation workers spend the holidays at work. (HINEWS, Oct. 5) This reporter learned from the City Landscaping Committee that over 30,000 sanitation workers spent their mid-autumn festival and National Day holidays at work. Wang Yunjie is a sanitation worker in the Nankai District Sanitation Department. He spent every single holiday at work in the past 20 years since coming to Tianjin.

· Worn-out wall collapses in a bank in Fuzhou, killing two decoration workers. (, Oct. 5) – Yesterday morning in a bank in Fuzhou, two decoration workers were crushed when the wall they were working on suddenly collapsed on top of them. They were lifeless when the firemen pulled them out. Authorities are investigating the cause of the incident.

· Japanese insurance companies cease providing strike insurance to Japanese companies in China. (Sina, Oct. 5) – According to Kyodo News, all major Japanese insurance companies have ceased providing the “special insurance” for damages sustained by Japanese companies when strikes take place in their factories in China. The report indicated that if the insurance companies’ decision continues, the risk to investment in China will increase.

· Hotel owner takes off; workers go into the street to demand payment of wages. (Southern Metropolis Daily, Oct.5) – This holiday has not made the workers at Jin Gu Xuan Hotel in Long Gang District too happy: their employer did not pay them their salaries and then ran away. Two days ago, over 60 workers went into the street to demand the payment of their wages. The local District Office got involved to coordinate. They will resort to a legal process to settle the matter.

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