Strikers demand right to unionise; Industrial action at Japanese-funded electronics factory enters fourth day

From Jonathan Lassen <>
Date Fri, 22 Apr 2005 13:42:30 -0400
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SCMP April 21

Strikers demand right to unionise; Industrial action at Japanese-funded electronics factory enters fourth day

Chow Chung-yan in Shenzhen

Protests by thousands of workers demanding the right to set up a trade union at a Japanese-funded electronics factory in Shenzhen entered their fourth day yesterday.

The industrial action began when workers at Uniden Electronics Products in Fuyong town walked off the job protesting against what they said was the Japanese management's refusal to allow them to set up a trade union.

They were also angry over the sacking of several colleagues who organised a massive protest last year to fight for better salaries and working conditions.

The Shenzhen government yesterday mobilised riot police and blocked the protesters from marching out of the factory, fearing the rally would trigger a fresh round of anti-Japanese protests.

The workers said they would not call off the action until management met their demands. Calls to the company were not answered yesterday.

Thousands of Uniden workers in Shenzhen went on strike in December to protest against low salaries and the alleged beatings of mainland workers by a Japanese supervisor.

The company eventually promised to raise salaries and said it would allow workers to set up a trade union.

But angry workers yesterday accused management of breaking its promises.

"They said they would let us form our own union and promised not to sack anyone who organised the protest. But after a few weeks, they sacked our leaders under some ridiculous excuses," one worker said yesterday. "They are now trying to stop us from setting up the union."

The employees said they had been required to work 11 hours a day and earned as little as 480 yuan a month.

Their conditions have improved since last year's protest, with management cutting daily shifts down to 101/2 hours and raising the basic salary to 800 yuan.

But the workers still insisted on the right to form their own trade union.

"We feel we have been treated like slaves. We need to band together and fight for our interests. That is our right," said one protester.

Uniden is a cordless phone maker headquartered in Tokyo. The Shenzhen factory is the company's main manufacturing plant.