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


An Open Letter for the International Human Rights Day
=====================================================================
 
An Open Letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
by 14 Hong Kong NGOs
On the International Human Rights Day
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
 
 

The Honourable Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
 
 

Dear Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,
 
On 10 December 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted without opposition the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Upon the premise that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, the UDHR has for more than half a century been the bedrock for the universal values that underpin the protection and promotion of basic human rights.
 
Today, as the UDHR approaches its 70th anniversary, we, the undersign groups, reaffirm hereby our stance with the universality of human rights as enshrined in this milestone document. We call on the international attention on China’ tendency to rule according to draconian law. We also urge the various UN human rights mechanisms to closely follow instances of rights violations in this country where the biggest population in the world live.
 
As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, and state party to a number of core human rights treaties, China should have the unassailable obligation to strictly and comprehensively observe the international human rights standards and principles.
 
However, the human rights record in China has never been satisfactory and it has gone worse since Xi Jinping took power in 2013. The Chinese government has, on the one hand, worked to restrain the civil space with coercive measures. Not only has it cracked down on civil society groups, arrested rights lawyers in large scale, detained citizen reporters, feminists and labour rights activists; the case of the Causeway Bookstore has also strongly suggested the practice of cross-border law enforcement by mainland officials. On the other hand, with the rhetoric of “rule by law” with Chinese characteristics, the Chinese government has openly defied the universal value of human rights. By legislating and revising large amount of law and regulations, the authorities have not only expanded the government’s executive power, but also legalised and institutionalised its acts of rights violation.
 
The 2014 Counterespionage Law, 2015 Counterterrorism Law and the National Security Law, 2016 Cybersecurity Law as well as the 2017 National Intelligence Law have all been common in their imprecision, allowing thereby board and arbitrary power to monitor and repress dissent voices and freedom of expression with no effective check and balance.
 
The Charity Law and the Law on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China, effective respectively on 1 September 2016 and 1 January 2017, were both designed to target rights-based non-governmental organisations in and outside of the country intending to reduce their space and capacity for monitoring rights violations.
 
The Criminal Law in 2015 and the two Measures in 2016, respectively on the Administration of Law Firms and on Lawyers Practice, were revised with new provisions hostile to rights lawyers, creating the leeway for the authorities to dominate the criminal procedure. The amendments made to the Regulation on Religious Affairs adopted in June this year are clear in their intention to cut back on the freedoms of thought and belief.
 
We believe that in China where the three powers of government concur, “rule by law” is in effect the rule according to draconian laws that relentlessly corrode the basic rights of the citizens and the healthy development of the civil society.
 
It is disturbing to note that governance basing on rule by severe law has also become imminent in Hong Kong over the past few years. After breaching its promise for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the Chinese leaders have more than once called on the collaboration of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government in the city. The Hong Kong SAR government has in its turn been recklessly acted to destroy some of the basic principles of rule of law by taking law as a tool for selective prosecution and for interfering into the independence of the Legislative Council, for instances. The Co-location arrangements, as they are now presented, will go as far as to allow full implementation of the Chinese law by mainland law enforcers inside the territory of Hong Kong, regardless of the pledge for One Country Two Systems.
 
As members of the civil society, we firmly believe that human rights as universal value is the consensus of all modern civilized societies. It is bound to be respected and shall be protected by law. Human rights, rule of law and democracy are symbiotic for their healthy development with none of them dispensable.
 
On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, we reiterate our stance with the UDHR, and the provisions stipulated in the various international instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as the basic guidelines in the protection and promotion of human rights.
 
We call on the international community as well as the people in China and in Hong Kong to take heed on the human rights violations by the Chinese government and to speak in one voice on universality of the international standard and principles of human rights.
 
We call on you, Commissioner, for your continual attention and close follow-ups on the situation of rights violations in China via means of the various mechanisms including that of the Office of the High Commissioner, the Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review, Treaty Bodies as well as Rapporteurs and Working Groups of the Special Procedures.
 
Thank you for your attention.
 
 

Sincerely,
We, the undersigned, are 14 NGOs from Hong Kong
(in alphabetical order)
China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group 中國維權律師關注組
Christians for Hong Kong Society 基督徒關懷香港學會
Civil Human Rights Front 民間人權陣線
Democracy Groundwork 小麗民主教室
Demosistō 眾志
Friends of Conscience 良心之友
Globalization Monitor 全球化監察
Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China
香港市民支援愛國民主運動聯合會
Hong Kong Christian Fellowship of City Concern香港基督徒社關團契
Hong Kong Christian Institute香港基督徒學會
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 香港職工會聯盟
Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese天主教正義和平委員會
Labour Action China中國勞動透視
Progressive Lawyers Group法政匯思
Worker Empowerment勞動力

Statement: Stop the Violent Eviction of the Urban Poor; Respect the Housing Rights of the People



Stop the Violent Eviction of the Urban Poor; Respect the Housing Rights of the People
 
On November 18, 2017, a fire broke out in Daxing District of Beijing, a suburb densely populated by low-income migrant workers. The fire killed at least 19 people and injured 8. After the fire, in the name of “improving the cityscape”, the Beijing Municipal Government embarked on an illegal eviction of migrant workers by force, while cutting off their electricity and water supplies. Tens of thousands of grassroots residents were forced out of their homes when temperature hovered around freezing point.
 
We (a group of civil society organisations) are outraged at how the authorities treated its people as “low-end population”. These internal migrant workers are in fact the cornerstone of China’s astounding economic growth. Since the economic reform, hundreds of millions of migrant workers are drawn to the cities from their rural hometowns and become the engine that powers the thriving industries. However, these workers are often denied reasonable wages, regardless of their hard-work. As a result, most migrant workers are unable to afford dignified living conditions in the cities. Worse still, municipal authorities also deem migrant workers as disposable “others”, and exclude them from the urban social security system through the Household Registration (Hukou) System. Thus, migrant workers’ needs and rights are often neglected in urban planning, education, medical services and other policies.
 
The Household Registration (Hukou) System has been adopted by the Chinese Government not only as a means to control the population, it also deprives the “migrant population” of citizenship rights in places other than their municipality of origin. The System has become such a deeply rooted belief and it continues to exploit the labour of the “migrant population” at the expenses of their social protections and well-beings. In past decades, the institutional discrimination against migrants has been further reinforced by the Chinese Government, as they are regarded as second-class citizens and the first to be sacrificed when crises emerge. During the financial crises in 2008 and 2012, for instance, the government drove out unemployed migrant workers and forced them to move back to their hometowns.
 
The fundamental cause of the Daxing fire is that the government failed to resolve the safety risks occurring in the urban sprawl in time. However, the Beijing Municipal authorities unreasonably shirked responsibilities to the “migrant population”, as if all the urban problems are simply caused by the migrant population’s “refusal to leave”, disregarding the fact that the development of the city has been built on the exploitation of these low-income migrants. Instead of resolving the fundamental issues, the fact that the authorities have used the Daxing fire as an excuse to evict the migrants to “make the city a better place” is undoubtedly like climbing a tree to catch a fish. To make matters worse, the unhealthy wind of the “eviction of the low-end population” has also been taken up by other provinces and cities. As reported, migrants in certain districts of Shenzhen and Guangzhou have also received eviction notices. The local authorities will need to immediately stop these discriminating and violent actions, before further humanitarian disasters emerge!
 
We believe that protecting the people is the responsibility of any government, and we demand the Beijing Municipal Government to:
 
1) Stop forced eviction immediately and actively facilitate the resettlement of the evictees;

2) Recognize the grassroots population as important stakeholders in the city and ensure their freedom of movement, right to housing, work, education and medical service are respected in government policies;

3) Hold the administrative organs and the staff accountable for the illegal actions and violation of people’s rights in the forced evictions;

4) Compensate all the financial losses of the residents affected by the forced evictions.
 
Note: Administrative Compulsion Law of the People’s Republic of China, Article 43 Administrative organs shall not conduct administrative enforcement at night or on a statutory public holiday, except for in an emergency. Administrative organs shall not force the parties concerned to perform the relevant administrative decisions by such means as cutting off the supply of water, electricity, heating or gas for the living of residents.
 
 
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese
League of Social Democrats
Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China
SACOM
Globalization Monitor
Worker Empowerment
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
Labour Education and Service Network
Labour Action China
Student Fight For Democracy
Civil Human Rights Front
Labour Party
Borderless movement
Land Justice League
Demosistō
Community March
China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
Hong Kong Chef Union
Left 21
Concerning Grassroots’ Housing Rights Alliance
CSSA Alliance
Community Development Alliance
Voters’ Voice
China Labour Bulletin
Councilor Chu Hoi-dick’s Office
Ekklesia Hong Kong
Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre
Industrial Relations Institue
Polyu Pavilion
Social Movement Resource Centre(Autonomous 8A)
LU Workers Concern Group
BU movement
Midnight blue
Progressive Lawyers Group
HK Psychologists Concern
Hong Kong Association of Women Social Workers
Reclaiming Social Work Movement
HKEd4All
Financier Conscience
Society of HKBU Social Work
Hong Kong Federation of Social Work Students
HKCTSSW
Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union
Civil Renaissance
Artists Action
Progressive Teachers’ Alliance
Grassroots Development Centre
Labour Rights Commune
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood
Democratic Party
門徒事工
v-artivist
ODAAG
Insurance ARISE
LIPS Labour Resource Centre (Indonesia)
Forum Worlds of Labour (Forum Arbeitswelten e.V. ) (Germany)
National Union Confederation (Indonesia)
Worker’s Initiative Kolkata (India)
Korean House for International Solidarity (Korea)
Socialist Party of Malaysia (Malaysia)
Just Economy and Labor Institute (Thailand)
SÜDWIND Institute (Germany)
IG Metall (Berlin)
LabourNet Germany (Germany)
Unifor Retiree Council Lower Mainland (Canada)
放射良心
ArchiVision
Committee for Asian Women (Malaysia)
 
(last updated November 30, 2017)
 
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfN79LgqAMvotgJgjRKPDRUuwm6QP2E9frYLEPRj5LkWhHGGg/viewform

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.
 
Fu Tianbo, who led more than a thousand agency workers in their campaign to be paid the same and treated the same as regular employees at FAW-Volkswagen, was detained in May 2017 and has been charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” He remains in detention awaiting trial.
 
Volkswagen has so far turned a blind eye to the fate of Fu Tianbo and the other agency workers whose long-standing grievances over pay and working conditions remain unresolved. FAW-Volkswagen must return to the negotiating table and engage in good faith collective bargaining with worker representatives so that a mutually acceptable resolution to the dispute can be arrived at.
 
China’s Labour Contract Law and Volkswagen’s own Charter on Temporary Work both recognize the rights of agency employees to equal pay for equal work and it is imperative that Volkswagen and FAW (one of the most profitable car manufacturing companies in China) honour their commitments to their workers.
 
Signed by:

China Labour Bulletin

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU)

Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC)

Worker Empowerment (WE)

Globalization Monitor (GM)

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM)

Labour Education and Service Network (LESN)

LabourNet Germany

Paul Paternoga, IG Metall and Social Democratic Party of Germany

Dr Darius Sivin
 
立即释放长春一汽大众工人代表符天博,立即重启集体谈判
 
长春一汽大众派遣工的维权行动届满一周年之际,我们主张长春有关部门立即释放工人代表符天博,同时呼吁一汽大众立即重启与派遣工的集体谈判。
 
符天博代表上千名同事与一汽大众管理方展开谈判,表达了派遣工对於同工同酬的诉求。2017年5月符天博遭警方逮捕并以涉嫌“聚众扰乱社会秩序”为由持续关押至今。
 
一年期间大众汽车集团无视工人代表符天博的牢狱之灾,忽视派遣工要求终止长久以来差别待遇的诉求。一个单纯的劳资纠纷无端变成了一起刑事案件。长春一汽大众有限公司应立即回到谈判桌上,拿出诚意与工人代表进行新一轮的集体谈判。透过谈判才能达成各方都能接受的协议,如此才能化解纠纷。
 
中国《劳动合同法》以及德国《大众汽车集团劳务工作宪章》均具有保障同工同酬的条款。中国第一汽车集团及德国大众汽车集团应立即回应派遣工的诉求,立即履行对职工的责任。
 
联署:

中国劳工通讯

香港职工会联盟

亚洲专讯资料研究中心

劳动力

全球化监察

大学师生监察无良企业行动

劳工教育及服务网络

德国劳工网

Paul Paternoga, 德国金属产业工会会员,德国社会民主党员

Dr Darius Sivin

Endorsed letter: Response to Uniqlo – RE: Outstanding severance owed to Jaba Garmindo workers

To
Yukihiro Nitta
Group Senior Vice President
Sustainability
Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.
 
1st November 2017
 
RE: Outstanding severance owed to Jaba Garmindo workers
 
Dear Yukihiro Nitta,
 
Thank you for your response to our letter received on the 12th September 2017.
We understand that Uniqlo wishes to deny responsibility for the rights of Jaba Garmindo workers on the basis that 1) notice was provided to the factory in advance of withdrawal and 2) that Jaba Garmindo was not a major buyer. We wish to explain why we disagree with this position and continue to call on Uniqlo to take immediate action to resolve the issue of outstanding severance.
 
Firstly, it is of course impossible for us to know what was discussed between your company and Jaba Garmindo owners prior to the withdrawal of orders. However, we do know that Uniqlo made no effort to communicate their concerns regarding production quality, or their intention to withdraw, to either of the established unions operating at the Chipuka factory.
 
For a brand to withdraw responsibly from a factory, it is essential that the possibility of, reasons for, and proposed time-frame for any withdrawal of orders is communicated directly to the workers in advance. This is to ensure a) that the workers themselves are aware of what is required to keep future orders and can negotiate possibilities for doing so and b) that the union can check that the supplier follows correct legal procedures in the event of closure, including making sure that severance entitlements will be paid.
 
Had Uniqlo involved the union in the negotiations around the withdrawal of orders, their representatives would have had more possibilities for action to prevent the severance violations prior to closure and workers may not have been left in their current positions. Your failure to take this basic and very simple step means that Uniqlo failed to carry out the required due diligence obligations necessary for protecting the rights of Jaba Garmindo workers at the time of withdrawal. To rectify this failure Uniqlo must now do anything it its power – up to and including directly paying the outstanding severance – to ensure these legal rights are fulfilled.
 
Secondly, workers report that Uniqlo was far from a minor buyer. Worker testimony makes clear that production for Uniqlo represented a significant proportion of their work in the year or so prior to closure.
 
Perhaps even more tellingly, workers also report that the arrival of orders from your company led to a noticeable shift in working patterns. That Uniqlo was able to directly influence production methods and organisation within the factory suggests that Uniqlo did indeed exert significant influence over Jaba Garmindo. Whether this influence was a result of Uniqlo’s power and influence in the industry, or of specific orders, this demonstrates that Uniqlo’s importance and leverage over Jaba Garmindo management was significant prior to closure.
 
The UN Guiding Principles state that businesses must use all their leverage to uphold rights within their supply chains. In a supply chain context, this leverage is not defined simply as the portion of the factory’s production dedicated to the buyer in question. Rather, it also must take into account other factors – including the influence and size of the company as a whole. It is therefore not sufficient for Uniqlo to rely on unproven claims regarding production percentage in order to evade responsibility for the fate of the Jaba Garmindo workers.
 
Finally, although Uniqlo claims their withdrawal had no impact on the closure, this does not fit with the facts on the ground – namely that Jaba Garmindo went into bankruptcy within weeks of Uniqlo removing its business. While it may be true that the withdrawal of Uniqlo from Jaba Garmindo was not the sole cause of the company’s bankruptcy, it seems likely that it was a significant factor in the ultimate closure of its factory.
 
The money owed to Jaba Garmindo workers was accrued by them throughout their working life, including through the period they were producing for Uniqlo, and the failure to pay them what they are owed is therefore tantamount to wage theft. While the most immediate obligation fell to Jaba Garmindo to ensure these accrued wages were saved for workers and protected in the event of bankruptcy, we believe that Uniqlo failed in its obligations as a responsible buyer by not verifying that the company was making such provisions. This obligation was particularly key given that Uniqlo had made a decision to withdraw orders, and knew or should have known that there was therefore a risk of retrenchment of some of all of the workforce. The failure to pay severance in such cases in a widespread violation and should have been considered in Uniqlo’s preperations for withdrawal. As such, we believe Uniqlo shares the responsibility for the factory’s failure to pay workers the severance that they were due.
 
For the reasons above, we believe that Uniqlo has the responsibility to ensure that the Jaba Garmindo workers are made whole, and has the resources to rectify this violation. As such, we will continue to urge Uniqlo to ensure that the remaining 5.5 million owed to this particular group of workers is paid as soon as possible.
 
Finally, we note in your letter that Uniqlo is now looking into ways of supporting ex-Jaba Garmindo workers in seeking employment. We have some serious concerns about this proposal.
 
After consultation with the workers’ representatives, we can note that the workers themselves are sceptical of the outcome of any such efforts. Employers in the garment industry are notorious for only employing young workers and are unlikely to be willing to employ ex-Jaba Garmindo workers, many of whom are older. There is also a concern that – as Uniqlo has little or no production in the Chipuka area – any scheme of re-employment would require workers to move a long way from their homes, something that most workers are unable to do. Finally, after their experience at Jaba Garmindo, it would be reasonable for worker to decide not to take up another job with an employer or a brand which has so little regard for their legal rights. Our experience with similar efforts in other contexts leads us to share this scepticism.
 
It is important to note however, that even if re-employment efforts could be designed and implemented, in conjunction with the workers and in an effective manner, this course of action does nothing to address the actual issue: that Jaba Garmindo workers have not been paid the severance that they are legally entitled to. Any re-employment efforts must be conducted in parallel with action to ensure that workers receive the compensation that they earned; they can not be considered as an “alternative” to provision of severance.
 
Uniqlo, and its parent company Fast Retailing, is one of the biggest retailers in the world: it has publicly stated it has ambitions to grow even more rapidly. This size and growth brings with it obligations for Uniqlo to behave ethically and morally in respect to the communities operates in. The closure of Jaba Garmindo has had a devastating impact on one such community, yet – although the cost of remedying this impact would be minimal for a company the size of Uniqlo – the workers continue to wait for justice.
 
We urge Uniqlo to act now and do the right thing for the Jaba Garmindo workers.
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
Samantha Maher, Clean Clothes Campaign, International Office
Tono Haruhi, Yokohama Action Research (YAR)
Laura Ceresna-Chaturvedi, Kampagne fur Saubere Kleidung
Kiki Yeung, SACOM and representative of Clean Clothes Campaign East Asia
Thulsi Narayanasamy, War on Want
Rena Lau, Globilisation Monitor
Sheung So, Labour Education and Service Network
Hyun-phil Na, Korean House of International Solidarity
Jason Chan, Labor Action China
Yuk Yuk Choi, Worker Empowerment
Valerie Nichols, China Labour Bulletin

Our report cited in: Hotel workers fight back in low paid service jobs

Hotel workers fight back in low paid service jobs
28/08/2017
 

http://www.clb.org.hk/content/hotel-workers-fight-back-low-paid-service-jobs

 
China’s hotel workers are among the lowest paid in the country, though they account for more than their fair share of resistance to poor working conditions.
 

Although the hotel industry accounts for only 1.5% of employment, according to official statistics, hotel workers make up 2.6% of all worker collective actions, according to CLB’s strike map; in services alone, hotel worker actions account for 15% of strikes and protests in the industry so far this year.
 

The hotel industry is just the latest example of how low pay and poor working conditions stand behind the booming service industry. According to the latest government statistics, hotel workers are among the lowest average paid of any industry:
 


Source: 2016 China Labour Statistical Yearbook
 

A new report (in Chinese) by Hong Kong-based labour rights organisation Worker Empowerment (WE) provides an unprecedented look into the lives and struggles of service sector workers, including those in the hotel industry. A survey of Shenzhen hotel workers last year showed that only half of workers had a labour contract, and worked for alarmingly low pay.
 

Far below government statistics, the WE report showed that pay among workers at hotels in Shenzhen, one of China’s most expensive cities, is between 2,000 to 3,000 yuan per month. In 2017, Shenzhen’s government set the local minimum wage at 2,135 yuan per month.
 

Hotel workers are subject to the same poor conditions regardless of the level of luxury of their workplaces. Labour conditions in five star high-end hotels are not necessary better than in their three-star counterparts: only about 55% of workers surveyed have a labour contract, 36% are interns whose contract conditions are negotiated between schools and hotels, not the students themselves. Meanwhile, agency or dispatch workers, who have no direct contractual connection with the hotels they work for, make up about 10% of the workforce surveyed by WE.
 

While most staff are low paid, income gaps within hotels can be enormous. In one hotel surveyed by WE, the chief executive earned around 100 times the salary of the lowest paid employee: front line staff earn around 2,000 yuan per month – barely enough to make it to the next pay cheque – while a general manager behind a desk makes 200,000 yuan. Salaries for middle management and other senior administrative positions hover between 3,000 to 6,000 yuan, according to WE.
 

The situation is even worse for those working in the associated services of the hotel, like bars and restaurants. Karaoke bars at hotels, for example, employ service staff with a monthly minimum wage of 600 yuan.
 

To make matters worse, application of flexible working hours leaves many front line staff with few chances to clock in overtime or holiday double pay, forcing them to work extra shifts late at night or during holidays with none of the legally mandated overtime compensation.
 

Incidents in the hotel industry are often smaller in scale than those of other industries, but they occur in every corner of China, from the most developed cities to the farthest reaches of the country.
 

On 14 August three cooks in Gansu threatened to jump from the roof of a hotel where they worked, protesting wage arrears. Police reported that, after they intervened, their boss paid their wages while the workers were placed in administrative detention. A week earlier a handful of workers at the Zhizhen Hotel in Xi’an blocked off the entrance to the building in a demonstration protesting pay deductions. Just last Monday, a group of workers at a hotel spa threatened to jump from the top of a building protesting wage arrears.

 

Demonstration by Zhizhen hotel workers in Xi’an, Shaanxi province earlier in August.
 

Low wages, income disparities, lack of labour contracts, increasing informalisation and deteriorating working conditions have set the stage for increased levels of labour unrest. Workers are ready to stand up for themselves and reclaim their fair share. If their demands are not addressed and deteriorating labour conditions persist, employers and relevant government agencies should not expect them to just go away.
 

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Joint Statement: Restore Meng Han’s Freedom, Stop all Surveillance Now

Restore Meng Han’s Freedom, Stop all Surveillance Now

MENG Han, a Guangdong labour activist, was released on 3 September after 21 months’ wrongful imprisonment. He was sentenced for “inciting a crowd to disturb public order” because he was merely participated in organising workers in collective labour disputes. We, the undersigned Hong Kong labour organisations, would like to reiterate that Meng was simply defending basic labour rights and exercising the right to freedom of association which, by no means, constitute any criminal offence.

Besides, we are deeply concerned for his personal freedom. Although Meng has reportedly expressed his willingness to continue participating in labour rights movement, he remains under the unlawful 24 hours’ surveillance by the authorities.

The International Labour Organization’s Committee of Freedom of Association (ILO-CFA) published an interim report last November responding to the complaint filed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) against the Chinese Government on the arrests of labour activists, which has urged the Chinese Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that freedom of association is protected and the released labour activists should be allowed to continue to provide advisory services to workers without hindrance. Therefore, we are aggrieved that Meng’s personal freedom and his right to defend labour rights are persistently infringed by the Chinese Government. We solemnly demand that the Chinese Government must:

1. Ensure Meng’s personal freedom and basic human rights are not to be violated;

2. Ensure Meng can continue to offer any advisory service and organise workers for the defence of their own labour rights without any unreasonable restriction and violation;

3. Stop the arrests of all activists and the suppressions of civil society and labour movement.

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Labour and Education Service Network
Labour Action China
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
Globalization Monitor
Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour
Worker Empowerment

勞工團體聯合聲明︰
出獄後被全天候監視 立即還孟晗自由
2017-09-14

廣東勞權人士孟晗,被囚二十一個月後已於日前(9月3日)獲釋。我們一眾香港勞工團體再次重申,孟晗因組織工人集體維權被控「聚眾擾亂社會秩序罪」而被判刑21個月,絕對是一場冤獄。孟晗所從事的組織工人維權工作,只是履行其結社自由與捍衛工人權益之基本權利,本身並不構成任何犯罪行為。與此同時,我們對孟晗的現況表示關注。據報,孟晗已明確表達希望繼續參與工人維權運動。可惜自出獄後,其行蹤一直被公安部門人員二十四小時監視,人身自由受到無理限制。孟晗既已重獲自由,當局無任何法律依據繼續限制其人身自由。

國際勞工組織於去年十一月發表了中期報告,回應了國際職工盟對中國政府拘捕勞權人士所作出的投訴。報告中要求中國政府必須保障被捕勞工團體領袖在不受任何不合理的限制和阻撓下,可繼續參與有關工人權益諮詢和維權工作。因此,我們對中國政府對孟晗的人身自由仍然作出限制,以及阻撓其選擇繼續為工人維權的權利感到極度憤怒,我們嚴正要求中國政府必須︰

1. 保障孟晗的人身自由和基本人權不被侵犯;

2. 保障孟晗在不受任何不合理的限制和阻撓下,可繼續參與有關工人權益諮詢和維權工作;

3. 停止濫捕、打壓公民社會和工人運動。

香港職工會聯盟
勞工教育及服務網絡
中國勞動透視
亞洲專訊資料研究中心
全球化監察
大學師生監察無良企業行動
勞動力

New publication: Research Report on the Labor Condition of Service Industry Workers

WE are excited to publicly announce our new publication at August, 2017.

New publication: Research Report on the Labor Condition of Service Industry Workers

劳动力八月出版:

服务业工人劳动状况调查报告集 

cover of the report
cover of the report
content of report
content of report

PDF download here 点此下载 2017年服务业工人劳动状况调查报告集

(只有中文版Available in Simplified Chinese character only.)

For more details welcome email to workerempowerment@gmail.com

 

Job-seeking and Retraining needs for Middle-aged Displaced Workers in Shenzhen

Job-seeking and Retraining needs for Middle-aged Displaced Workers in Shenzhen
Executive Summary

Full report in Chinese is available for download here. Acknowledgement to Shenzhen Migrant Workers’ Centre and student interns for their contribution to the investigation.

 

Industrial upgrading in Shenzhen in recent years have resulted in closure and relocation of numerous factories in labour-intensive industries. With little savings and social protection, middle-aged workers laid off face difficulties in looking for a new job and satisfy survival needs of themselves and their families.  In this investigative report, we demonstrate that the situation of a group of former toy factory workers, who were laid off due to factory relocation, exemplifies the need of these workers regarding reemployment constantly ignored by the government and trade union.

Workers affected in this wave of layoffs are usually in their 40s, and have worked in the same industry for years. Their skill development has been highly dependent on production requirement of the factories. The toy factory workers, mostly female, are responsible for supporting the living costs of both their parents and children. Furthermore, due to the substandard practices of their employment in social security, they are not yet eligible for pension entitlements and are not ready to withdraw from the labour market.

These workers have substantial work experience in the toy industry. Many of them wish to fully utilise skills developed from their past work, but they face a variety of obstacles in job searching –

  1. Age limit – most factories only recruit workers below 40 years of age. Older workers find it hard to land a regular and permanent job.
  2. Insufficient unemployment insurance benefits – most workers are entitled to benefits for 1 to 2 months, but it is insufficient when it takes them 4 months to be re-employed on average.
  3. Worse working conditions – workers who manage to find a stable job report lower remunerations, lack of a labour contract and social insurance. Living needs of their own and their families’ cannot be fulfilled albeit living on a shoestring.
  4. Job precariousness – jobs in remaining toy factories in Shenzhen become more flexible. Most factories shrink in size and employ mostly temporary workers organised by foremen on commission. Duration of work in a factory ranges from 2 days to 1 month, making work highly precarious for workers.

Current unemployment-related policies in Shenzhen do not fit the situations of these middle-aged workers. For instance, most workers who quit their job against their will or fail to provide proof of involuntary unemployment are not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The rate of benefit is also inadequate to support them over the job-seeking period. Local officials are ill-informed of related regulations to assist workers in going through procedures for job matching and skill retraining services. Policies assisting start-ups are highly inclined towards young and highly educated entrepreneurs in new and hi-tech industries, which are inadequate for the needs of middle-aged former factory workers.

We hereby propose the following suggestions for improving existing policies regarding reemployment –

  1. The Unemployment Insurance Fund should be used to ease the burden of workers rather than enterprises

    In face of the current economic slowdown, the Guangdong provincial government cuts unemployment insurance premium for employers, whilst the Shenzhen municipal government pay enterprises subsidies with the abundant Unemployment Insurance Fund for the sake of stabilising employment. We argue that workers are equally in need as enterprises during this difficult time, and the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Fund should be more transparent to the public. It is suggested that all workers should receive unemployment benefits for a minimum of 3 months. The amount of benefit should also be no less than the local minimum wage and subject to adjustment at least once every 2 years.

  1. Strengthening of Reemployment services for workers with no local household registration accounts

    All services regarding reemployment – including job matching and start-up assistance – should be extended to workers of all ages, regardless of their household registration status. The Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security to take the lead to coordinate resources and experience from social organisations in providing specific reemployment services for workers of different ages, skills and education levels. Subsidies should also be provided to workers during retraining as a motivation.

  1. Forbidding age discrimination of enterprises during recruitment

    Explicit discrimination of age and gender by enterprises result in obstacles for older workers in search of proper regular jobs. The central government should initiate the legislative process of the anti-discrimination law, in order to better promote social equality and progress for all.

Statement from Hong Kong Labour Groups on the Prosecution of Labour Activists in Guangdong

Statement from Hong Kong Labour Groups on the Prosecution of Labour Activists in Guangdong

16th July, 2016

Guangdong labour activists Zeng Feiyang, Meng Han, Zhu Xiaomei and Tang Huanxing, who were arrested by Chinese police on 3rd December, 2015, were charged with “disturbing social order” by the People’s Procuratorate of Panyu District, Guangzhou Municipality in June and will be on trial in the near future.

In the December incident, more than 50 activists were interrogated and seven were detained or went missing. This prosecution is part of President Xi’s crackdown on labour activists and gravely threatens the survival of civil society in China. The detained were denied the right to meet with their lawyers. Relatives of the detained appointed lawyers to meet with the activists in detention, but police turned down their requests, either claiming that the activists had already hired their defense lawyers or without providing any reasons or documentary proof at all. Zeng Feiyang was not allowed to see his lawyer for six months and in the meantime was slandered in government controlled media. Worse yet, relatives of activists have been surveilled in their homes, violently harassed or verbally threatened.

We believe that the Guangdong police’s actions trampled on the judicial principles of fairness and justice, violated the basic rights of the activists, and seriously violated domestic Chinese law. Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence”; Article 14 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that arrested persons have the right to “defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing”. “Own choosing” must be an autonomous decision made by the persons involved without threats, coercion or capitulation. The Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment expressly stipulate that any detained person “shall be entitled to have the assistance of a legal counsel” and “communicate and consult with his legal counsel.” The Constitution of People’s Republic of China states that “the accused has the right to defence”. Article 14 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China states that “the public security organs shall safeguard the procedural rights to which participants in court proceedings are entitled according to law.” Article 33 states that “he or his close relatives may file an application with the legal aid agency for help.”

International society will not forget the arrested activists. The four labour activists are now going to trial. On account of the violations of the arrested activists’ basic rights and the harassment and surveillance of their families by the Guangdong Police, we make the following public statement:

  1. It is legitimate for workers to defend their rights and seek social support when their rights are undermined. Even if this induces losses for a factory, the workers are not guilty of “disturbing public order”. Workers’ have rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, which should be respected. Their actions to defend their rights should not be considered crimes.
  2. The Ministry of Public Security should act on its responsibilities for oversight and ensure Guangdong police protect the four activists’ rights in accordance with the abovementioned international covenants and domestic laws, which are recognized by the PRC government. The arrested persons’ rights to access effective assistance, to freely choose their own legal counsel, and to have the legal counsel appointed by their relatives fully exercise the right to defend them through to the end of the trail must be protected.
  3. The People’s Procuratorate of Guangzhou Municipality and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate should fulfill their judicial obligations of oversight by refusing to tolerate any illegal behaviour in this case. Anyone abusing their power in this case should be investigated and punished according to law.
  4. We, concerned members of civil society, will closely monitor this case. We demand that this politically motivated case be dropped and all labour right activists must be released immediately.

Signed by:
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
China Labour Bulletin
The editorial committee of Red Balloon Solidarity
Globalization Monitor
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Labour Action China
Labour Education and Service Network
Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour
Worker Empowerment