Fu Changguo, staff member of the Dagongzhe Workers Centre in Shenzhen and partner of Worker Empowerment, has been summoned by the Pingshan District Public Security Sub-Bureau on 10 August 2018 in connection with the protest by the Jaisic workers and has been held incommunicado since then. Today marks a full year of detention of Fu Changguo, during which he was held under multiple forms of custody. Worker Empowerment expresses deep sympathy towards his family. At the same time Worker Empowerment has been closely concerned with the development of circumstances. Within this year, Fu Changguo and his family have been put through the following unreasonable or even illegal treatments by the authorities: Continue reading “Statement – 1 year since the arrest of Fu Changguo”
- Statement – 1 year since the arrest of Fu Changguo
- Inadequate Increment: A Review of Minimum Wage Level in Guangdong 2018
- Urgent appeal: Let Fu Changguo go home for his mothers’ funeral
- Joint Letter: Labour Right violations undertaken by Global Brands Group’s sourcing partner in El Salvador
- Joint Statement: Release Fu Changguo Now!
- Statement From Worker Empowerment
- Publication: English version of Research Report on Working Conditions in the Hotel Industry
Released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (hereafter MHRSS) of the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) in 2003, the Minimum Wage Regulation requires labour security administrative departments of all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to review and adjust minimum wage levels at least once every two years. The Regulation has since become the backbone in protecting the livelihoods of the vast labour population in China. In Guangdong, cities are categorized into four ‘wage districts’ based on their level of economic development. Each of the four wage districts adopts different minimum wage levels. While the minimum wage level of Type A districts is the highest, the minimum wage level of Type D districts is the lowest in the province. The Human Resources and Social Security Department of Guangdong Province (hereafter GDHRSS) is responsible for regularly adjusting the four different minimum wage levels. But Shenzhen, despite being a city in Guangdong, independently set its own minimum wage level until the middle of 2018, when the city was included in the minimum wage system of Guangdong. Shenzhen, like Guangzhou, is categorized as a Type A city, but Shenzhen still had its own minimum wage level by August 2018.
In 2018, the minimum wage level of all regions in Guangdong was adjusted for the first time after since 2015. Shenzhen also experienced its first raise in the minimum wage under the principle of biennial adjustment. We have been closely following the issue of minimum wage in Guangdong. Through long-term investigation and research, we try to find out whether the wage levels of workers in Guangdong can catch up with the level of economic developments in the province. We have documented the changes in minimum wage levels in different cities in Guangdong province, and in this paper, we will examine whether the Minimum Wage Regulation remains effective in protecting the livelihood of grassroots workers.
Fu Changguo, the staff member of Shenzhen Dagongzhe Workers Centre, has been detained by the police because of the Jasic incident since August 2018. His mother, Ms. Huang Youyue, unfortunately passed away on 10 th January, 2019, without being able to see her son for one last time. Fu is the only son in the family. His family requests the Shenzhen Police Bureau to release Fu so that he can fulfil his filial duty to organize and attend his mother’s funeral.
According to our sources, Huang’s health deteriorated in mid December 2018. The family members of Fu thus petitioned the Pingshan Police Department multiple times requesting them to release Fu on bail so that he could spend time with his dying mother. However, the Police Department declined their request on the ground that “Fu might destroy or fabricate the evidences, influence the testimonies of the witnesses or collude with them; and that releasing (Fu) on bail cannot forestall social dangers”
As we have emphasized, while working in Dagongzhe Fu was a law-abiding citizen and had not involved in organizing any workers or inciting illegal activities. We mourn the death of Fu’s mother; may her soul rest in peace. We sincerely hope that the Shenzhen Police understands the situation and allows Fu to go home for his mother’s funeral.
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
Labour Education and Service Network
Labour Action China
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:
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 (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.
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
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.