Joint Letter: Labour Right violations undertaken by Global Brands Group’s sourcing partner in El Salvador

Photo credit: Worker Rights Consortium

Alongside with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and Global Monitor, WE had issued a joint letter to the Hong Kong-based international apparel giant, Global Brands Group (GBG), regarding the shameless act of sudden closure of one of its main supplier factories in El Salvador, resulting in the arrears of  wages, severance and benefits of 824 garment workers.

Hundreds of workers and their families, caught off guard by the sudden closure, are financially precarious due to the irresponsible acts of GBG’s supplier. We demand the Global Brands Group to take up the responsibilities and provide workers with their legally-owed amount. Read the full letter below:

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Joint Statement: Release Fu Changguo Now!

In a Xinhua news report published on 25th August, Shenzhen Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre (DGZ) is accused of actively involving in the JASIC protest with financial support from abroad. Huang Qingnan, the legal person of DGZ, was released on bail on 5th September and sent back to his hometown in Fujian. However, it has been over 30 days since Fu Changguo, another staff member of DGZ, was detained since 11th August.

 

Huang Qingnan was in Fujian the whole time when the JASIC incident developed. He was taken to Shenzhen and put under detention on 13th August, although released on bail 23 days later. There is neither proof of Huang’s participation in the JASIC incident nor violation of law. We urge the Shenzhen Police to clear his charge and close the case in due course.

 

Prior to being held on 10th August, Fu Changguo had already been summoned by the police for four times (on 25th July, 26th July, 4th August and 7th August respectively). He was questioned about the JASIC incident in detail, and was asked not to involve in supporting JASIC workers. Since the breakout of the workers’ protest, what Fu has done is merely circulating news about the protest and links to fundraising sites in a Wechat group of workers, as well as visiting the protest scene once as an observer.

 

As the labour law consultant of the worker centre, Fu went to the JASIC factory to learn more about the incident, in which workers’ rights are intruded, simply because of its relevance to his job duties. He had never involved in organizing workers nor their supporters. Circulating news in a Wechat group, as accused by the Xinhua news report, is by no means comparable to spreading rumours online and picking trouble, thus far from “radicalising the incident”. What Fu has been forwarding since July are all news and links to fundraising sites released by supporters of JASIC workers, which are real and forwarded by many others.

 

We urge the Pingshan branch of the Shenzhen Police to respect Fu’s legal rights during detention, as he has been denied access to lawyers until now. It is also demanded that Fu be released and his case closed immediately, after finding out his actions during the JASIC incident indeed involves no crime nor harm to the society. According to the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, the public security organ should submit a request for examination and approval to the People’s Procuratorate within 30 days of detention only with a valid charge on an individual. We urge the Procuratorate to take facts and evidence into thorough consideration, and then disapprove the request for arrest.

 

Worker Empowerment and the Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre are in long-term partnership with frequent collaborations. Established in 2000, DGZ operates under a business license, registered as Dagongzhe Shangdian (Migrant Workers’ Shop), but has been constantly attempting to register as either a social organization or a private non-enterprise unit. DGZ has been serving the community for over 10 years, running a free legal consultation telephone hotline, as well as face-to-face consultation, which benefit around 500 workers per year. DGZ actively promotes legal knowledge for workers by outreach programmes and labour law workshops in industrial zones, equipping workers with legal knowledge in case of illegal exploitation by employers. It also provides activities such as Labour Day commemorative activities, movie screenings and hiking trips.

 

Like thousands of other non-profit organizations in China, the operation of DGZ is constantly under threat. In 2007, thugs hired by factory owners deliberately damaged facilities of DGZ, as well as violently assaulted Huang Qingnan, a staff member at that time, leading to his permanent disabilities. Over the years, DGZ has also been evicted by landlords and compelled to relocate for numerous times. In face of the difficulties, DGZ persists in serving migrant workers in Shenzhen with good intentions, driven by no conspiracy of disrupting social order. We urge the Shenzhen authorities to support DGZ and other organizations of similar sort instead of suppressing them. 

 

Shenzhen Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre

Worker Empowerment

Statement From Worker Empowerment

Worker Empowerment (WE) is aware of an article published by Xinhua News, which mentions the involvement of WE and Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre (DGZ) in the recent JASIC incident.

 

WE is a Hong Kong-registered labour organisation focused on labour rights and labour policies, as well as service provision to vulnerable workers, in China. WE has been honoured to join forces with hundreds of thousands of social organisations and charities serving the general public, which have blossomed in China in the context of accelerating economic reform and improvement of the legal system in the past decade. WE contributes to the resolution of labour disputes and social conflicts with constructive labour policy recommendations and educational activities. During this period, our organization has never been accused of working illegally by Chinese authorities.

 

WE has never been involved in organizing or financially supporting JASIC workers or their supporters. Having been following the rapid developments in the recent JASIC incident, our organization hopes that the rights and safety of all participants are legally and reasonably taken care of as soon as possible.

 

WE has also been informed that Fu Changguo, a staff member of DGZ, has been criminally detained by the police in Pingshan, Shenzhen on a charge of supposedly committing “provocative and disturbing acts” since 10th August. Huang Qingnan, the legal person of DGZ, has also been criminally detained in Shenzhen on the same charge since 13th August. From late July onwards, current and former staff of DGZ, as well as workers who participate in DGZ activities, were repeatedly summoned by the local police for the JASIC incident. These DGZ-related individuals have reassured the police that they are not involved in the incident, not to mention organizing the JASIC workers.

 

To the knowledge of WE, DGZ has been serving grassroots migrant workers since 2000. It provides free legal consultation services to over 500 grassroots migrant workers annually, promotes labour laws and regulations, as well as more than 200 free educational activities and entertainments from which over 100,000 workers benefit. These would not be possible without the effort of enthusiastic individuals such as Huang Qingnan and Fu Changguo, who wholeheartedly serve migrant workers and society as a whole.

 

Huang Qingnan, who suffers from second-grade disability, first received help from labour organizations 20 years ago due to occupational injury. Self-taught in law after the injury, he provided free legal consultation services at DGZ, which was well-received by local workers. In 2007, Huang was violently assaulted by thugs hired by local factory owners due to his work at DGZ. This resulted in permanent disability on his left leg. After the incident, the Shenzhen police acted swiftly to solve the case and arrest the attackers. The municipal government and trade union also gave high regard to the work of Huang and DGZ by giving emergency financial aid. A year later, Huang left DGZ for his hometown in Fujian Province. He goes to Shenzhen only once or twice a year to visit DGZ staff and workers.

 

Fu Changguo, a current staff member of DGZ, is responsible mainly for legal consultation. With first-hand experience of inhumane working conditions in factories after graduating from high school, he taught himself legal knowledge to protect labour rights of himself and the others. Since his arrest, his family and lawyers have visited various police stations and detention centres in Shenzhen, but have still received no information about where he is, apart from the fact that he is under detention.

 

WE is seriously concerned about the current situation of Fu Changguo and Huang Qingnan, since they have been detained for more than two weeks and their lawyers’ effort in arranging a meeting with them has been in vain. WE sincerely hopes that the Shenzhen Police can clear any doubts about Fu and Huang and release them in due course. Meanwhile, as citizens of the People’s Republic of China, Fu and Huang are entitled to the right to meet and communicate with family and lawyers, as well as to be fairly treated during different stages of the legal process. Their health and safety should also be ensured, especially given Huang’s physical disability.

 

Last but not least, the Xinhua article specifically points out that training materials on worker organising were found in the computer of DGZ. WE believes that DGZ as an active organisation has received and archived numerous complimentary training materials. However all activities and legal consultation that DGZ has provided are well-recorded. Keeping the materials by no means equals using them in practical terms. If it is taken as evidence of the involvement of DGZ in the JASIC incident, which results in the detainment of DGZ staff and even potential conviction of committing “provocative and disturbing acts”, the thousands of individuals working in social organisations in China would also be at risk of being convicted. DGZ has been actively attempting to be formally registered with the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs, as well as keeping the channel of communication open with other government departments according to state laws and regulations. DGZ also communicates with the street-level police station on a regular basis. We sincerely hope that Xinhua News will better understand the contributions of DGZ and all social organisations to social improvement before making groundless accusations.

 

Worker Empowerment

Publication: English version of Research Report on Working Conditions in the Hotel Industry

We are pleased to announce the publication of the English version of our research report on the working conditions in the hotel industry in Shenzhen.
The Chinese version of this report had already been published last year as a part of our service sector research report.

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WE will be attending the NGO Job/ Internship Fair in CityU!

We will be attending the NGO Job/ Internship Fair on 23/4 in CityU. Among with 13 other NGOs in Hong Kong, we will be introducing the issues that we focus on and our daily work. Come find us if you are interested to know more about issues related to Chinese labour rights!

Date: 23-4-2018 (Mon)

Time: 11:00 – 18:00

Location: Wong’s International Terrace B, City University of Hong Kong

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Investigative Report on Workers’ wage and Living Expenses in Four Tier Cities in Guangdong Province

An advocate in minimum wage adjustments in China, WE had conducted and published a survey about wages and living expenses of workers in four cities of different tiers in Guangdong Province. It had been discovered that, after years of lack of adjustments, the current minimum wage level in Guangdong had become unsatisfactory in securing a basic living for grassroots workers.

 

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co-signed: An Open Letter for the International Human Rights Day

An Open Letter for the International Human Rights Day
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An Open Letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by 14 Hong Kong NGOs on the International Human Rights Day to re-affirm our Stance on the Universality of Human Rights, Call on Concern of the Rule According to Draconian Laws & Follow-ups to Rights Violations in China

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co-signed statement: Release worker representative Fu Tianbo and resume collective bargaining at FAW-Volkswagen

On the first anniversary of the struggle of agency workers at FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun for equal pay for equal work, we call on the Changchun municipal authorities to immediately release worker representative Fu Tianbo and for FAW-Volkswagen to return to the negotiating table.

 

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