08/11/2018, 14.10
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Maoists and students back workers who want independent trade union in Shenzhen

by Wang Zhicheng

Jasic Technology workers claim they are treated “like slaves". At least 14 people are still in custody. Maoists demand their liberation and the right to establish independent trade union. Publicly traded JT sells products all over the world and has plants in Shenzhen, Chongqing and Chengdu. Its Shenzhen plant alone employs about a thousand people.

Shenzhen (AsiaNews) – University students and retired members of the Chinese Communist Party, proudly carrying portraits of Mao Zedong, are taking part in demonstrations in support of a group of workers who are trying to set up an independent trade union in their plant, owned by Jasic Technology (JT).

As a result of the protest, people have been detained and 14 are still in jail after several weeks. The JT workers who launched the campaign for unionisation in May were sacked and beaten by thugs.

According to the workers, working conditions at the plant have deteriorated considerably. Wages as well as social insurance and housing funds have been cut. Schedules have been changed without consultation. Workers claim that the company was treating them “like slaves”.

They voiced their complaints to the authorities, but JT management had already set up their own worker representatives committee which excluded the candidates the worker activists had proposed.

In light of the situation, workers took to the streets (picture 1), collected funds and posted open letters on social media, which were immediately blocked.

Seven JT workers were sacked and 29 of their supporters arrested. As of last Tuesday night, 14 people were still in detention for disrupting order.

The workers found support among university students and old Maoists, retired members of the Communist Party, who began demonstrating five days ago in front of the police station in Yanziling, Shenzhen (picture 2).

They demand the release of all detained workers, the right to set up an independent trade union and punishment for policemen and thugs who beat workers.

The position of the official unions, which are subservient to the Communist Party and are accused of defending the interests of factory owners, often party members themselves, is not clear.

The JT, established in 2005, is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Its products and services – ranging from shipbuilding to petroleum, steel, railways, vehicles – are found all over the world.

The company has plants in Shenzhen, Chongqing and Chengdu. In the Shenzhen plant alone, it employs about a thousand people.

According to labour rights experts, at least since 2015, with the reduction of easy government lending, there has been a massive crackdown on labour rights, which has led to complaints about overwork and low wages.

More than 1,860 strikes or workers’ protests have been recorded over the past 12 months, this according to the China Labor Bulletin, which monitors labour rights in China.

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