Striking Workers Suppressed and Detained at Uniqlo Supplier Factory


Hundreds of workers at the Shenzhen Artigas Clothing and Leatherware factory have been carrying out a strike since June 8 to protest management’s decision to relocate operations without proper consultation with employees and compensation as required by Chinese regulations.

Artigas workers protesting, 24 June 2015 (Weibo)      

After more than two weeks of striking, at least one worker was detained in the night on June 25 by public security, according to the Weibo account linked to Artigas workers. 

Artigas workers waiting for police to release a co-worker, 25 June 2015 (Weibo) 

Another June 25 Weibo post stated, “We are still struggling in the nightmare of our coworker being taken away by the police from his/her apartment in the night for no good reason. This afternoon, police have again entered our workshop, yelling at and threatening us workers. Is there no justice in Shenzhen? Are they trying to kill us?”

Police in the workshop at Artigas, 25 June 2015 (Weibo) 

The Artigas factory is a supplier to companies that include Uniqlo, G2000, Baleno, and Li & Fung.

On June 21, workers publicly released a statement in which they demanded collective bargaining with Artigas management around backpay for pension, full overtime pay, full high-temperature allowances, annual paid leave, and contract revision compensation. As a part of their protest, workers have blocked management from removing some production equipment from the workshop. A number of workers also reportedly went on a hunger strike, according to news reports.

Two other Weibo posts from June 24 include:

      “Our reasonable demands have constantly received the suppression by the Longhua District government. Our rights defense banner was again forcefully torn       down and taken away by the local police. The government is helping the tiger pounce on its victims. Management is hiding. Do we really have nowhere else to       get justice?”

      “We are using action to tell the boss and government that our demand are legal and reasonable, that we aren’t afraid of suppression, that no matter how much       hardship and grief is on the road of rights defense, we aren’t afraid of suppression… we will stick it out until the end!”

Fast Retailing, parent company of Uniqlo, released a statement on the Artigas strike on June 17. It said, “Fast Retailing has requested that management of the owner company, Lever Style, undertake thorough discussions with the workers, for a peaceful resolution. Fast Retailing has communicated to the management that if the situation is not promptly resolved, it will take appropriate action, including re-assessing the relationship with the supplier.”

This June strike has its roots in an earlier action which occurred in December 2014. At that time nearly 1,000 Artigas initiated a strike over the company’s failure to pay all social insurances according to law. Veteran workers were especially concerned about unpaid pension contributions because according to regulations, they cannot enjoy a pension until 15 years of contributions have been made. Some Weibo photos from the 2014 strike are posted below.

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