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Chine ouvrière, décembre 2008

jeudi 11 décembre 2008, par Robert Paris

Workers’ protests in Shanghai

Thu, 11 Dec 2008.

1,000 workers stage rare sit-in protest outside a Shanghai factory

Around 1,000 predominantly young women workers demanding unpaid overtime, bonuses and benefits, have staged protests at two electronics factories in Shanghai for the past three days. The factories owned by Shanghai Yihsin Industry Company, part of the Singapore-listed Huan Hsin Group, have stopped production leaving the workforce in the lurch. This is the latest example of industrial action in China as factories close and cheat workers out of entitlements due to the economic slowdown.

Young worker shows bruises after police attack on sit-down protest

"I know the economy is bad now, but none of us can stand being badly treated by our employers," protest organizer Ding Xiaohua told AFP.

Protests began on Monday at two of Shanghai Yihsin Industry Company’s six factories in the southwestern suburb of Minhang. At one of the plants, workers staged a sit-in at the factory gates. Reuters commented that "this week’s demonstrations are believed to be among the first major protests in Shanghai, China’s commercial capital.” The factories make parts including shells for laptop computers and printers for global giants like Siemens, Sony and Lucent Technologies, which are making drastic cutbacks as the worldwide capitalist crisis deepens.

Workers complain they are owed a 1,200-yuan (175-dollar) bonus for working in temperatures greater than 40 celsius during the summer months. But they have only been paid their regular monthly salaries of about 960 yuan ($140). Additionally, they say their medical insurance has not been paid by the company. They said that since the production stoppage, bosses told them to attend training lectures or move to factories in the same business group. But they had refused to do so without being paid.

Gangsters and police

Workers said that some of their number had been taken away by police on the second day of the protest. They also said they have been threatened since they began their protest. One of the factory workers showed footage recorded on her mobile phone, showing a scuffle with police. She also told Channel News Asia that some of her colleagues had been beaten up by gangsters on Monday.

"It’s very simple, but they have not paid us," explained 21 year old Yuan Lei.

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