04/21/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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Workers strike for right to unionise

Protests are aimed at a Japanese company. Authorities block demonstrators to prevent violent anti-Japanese rallies.

Fuyong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thousands of workers have been striking for the past four days in Fuyong, in the southern Chinese province of Shenzen, to improve their working conditions and win the right to unionise—their target is the Japanese-funded Uniden Electronics Products, which manufactures cordless phones.

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

Workers' daily shifts are on average 10-1/2 hours with basic monthly wages of 800 yuan (US$ 105, € 80).

strikers have vowed not to return to work unless their demands are met.

"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.

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

Uniden workers had already struck last December to protest against low salaries and the alleged beatings of mainland workers by a Japanese supervisor.

Till then workers said they had been required to work 11 hours a day and earned as little as 480 yuan a month (US$ 65, € 48).

The company eventually promised to raise salaries and said it would allow workers to set up a trade union. It also pledged not to retaliate against the strike's organisers.

But angry workers yesterday accused management of breaking its promises. Organisers were in fact fired under various pretexts.

"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." (PB)

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