March 17, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK – Thousands of workers employed at Plant 3 of the Yue Yuen shoe factory went on strike today to demand an immediate payout of their housing fund after a recent and sudden decision by management to merge two plants.
Two Yue Yuen workers have confirmed the strike with China Labor Watch (CLW). On QQ, some people posted pictures and discussion of the strike.
Chen (alias) is a female worker in Plant 3 who participated in today’s strike. Chen told CLW that Yue Yuen management last week suddenly announced that Plant 3 would be merged with Plant S1, also a division of Yue Yuen in Dongguan. In protest, some workers participated in a slowdown last week. With no response from management, the entire 3,000-strong workforce of Plant 3 went on strike today, Chen said.
Workers point out that by merging these two plants, management had to alter the contracts of Plant 3 employees. But according to Chinese labor law, contract updates must first be negotiated between employees and the employer.
During the strike, the company union collected demands from participating workers to present to management. Yue Yuen responded on the same day, claiming that the merger would only apply to the office staff and logistical unit of Plant 3, not production units (see announcement in attachments below).
Chen said that workers are not satisfied by the response. Furthermore, workers perceive this change as a progressive step toward movement of Yue Yuen operations out of Dongguan toward Southeast Asia. Workers expect that the downsizing in the Dongguan operations will only continue, and most workers want to resign now with a payout of their housing fund.
This has become especially urgent to workers because of changes to Dongguan housing fund regulations that came into effect in March. These rules set more stringent conditions under which workers can withdraw money from their housing fund. In particular, workers must withdraw before they resign.
Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings is one of the largest manufacturers of footwear in the world and is a major supplier to many international brands.
Nearly a year ago, more than 40,000 Dongguan Yue Yuen workers carried out one of the largest industrial strikes in modern Chinese history. Workers at that time were primarily demanding years of unpaid pension contributions. The regional union and local government intervened, and after two weeks, workers were promised backpay and the re-election of the company union. (CLW coverage of the 2014 strike: 1, 2, 3, 4.)
According to Chen, many workers are still gradually receiving pension backpay from Yue Yuen since the 2014 strike, though workers must also contribute their part of the unpaid pension.
Attachments – photos of the Yue Yuen Plant 3 strike
About China Labor Watch:
Founded in 2000, China Labor Watch is an independent not-for-profit organization. For more than a decade, CLW has collaborated with labor organizations and the media to conduct in-depth assessments of factories in China that produce toys, bikes, shoes, furniture, clothing, and electronics for some of the world’s largest brand companies. CLW’s New York office creates reports from these investigations, educates the international community on supply chain labor issues, and pressures corporations to improve conditions for workers.
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