Country Rating: 5

  • No guarantee of rights

  • Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

60 million agency workers excluded: All the local wage negotiation legislation excludes agency workers. The only exception is Wuxi city in Jiangsu province, which allows the agency workers to take part in the collective negotiation with the company where they work. Although there is no provision barring agency workers from joining a trade union in Chinese law, they are allowed to join the trade union only in the agency company as stated in the ACFTU Directive passed in 2009.

Criminal charges against union leaders: Workers at the Diweixin Product Factory in Shenzhen (southern China) sought negotiations earlier this year in response to concerns about production cutbacks and apparent preparations for relocation to another site in the Chinese interior. However, management refused to disclose any information and to enter into negotiations. On 7 May 2013, workers downed tools and petitioned the local government to intervene. Police responded by arresting and detaining 20 workers on 23 May 2013. Wu Guijun, one of the representatives during the negotiations, was charged for "assembling a crowd to disturb social order".

Twelve security workers were prosecuted on charges of illegal assembly and disruption of the public order after a protest at the First Hospital of Chinese Medical University of Guangzhou city on 20 August 2013. Workers were demanding social security protection for agency workers. The hearing for the case was delayed for more than seven months.

About 160 self-employed taxi drivers from Shuangliu county announced a strike on 28 January 2013. Workers wanted to protest against irregular licence renewal fees and the restructuring of the self-employed taxi drivers into taxi companies. However, about 100 workers were stopped by force from reaching Beijing and sent back to Shuangliu by force. They were blocked by the county government officials before arriving Beijing and brought back to the county under administrative detention. The workers petitioned to the Transportation Ministry in Beijing in April 2013. Three workers are still in custody and are charged for illegal assembly. Their application for bail was denied and hearings have been postponed without justification. The case is still pending before the courts.

Thousands of workers, who have been retrenched by the China Construction Bank and other commercial banks ten years ago, were protesting their situation in May and July 2013. On 22 July, the protest was violently repressed and a hundred of protesters were sent to Majialou and Jiujingzhuang blackjails, from which they were released after having staged a hunger strike. However, workers have continued to seek their rights through protests in October 2013, even though the government tries to silence workers through various forms of abuses such as forced labour and illegal detentions in disguised camps.

Five workers at the US-owned company "International Paper" were dismissed after they had taken part in a two-day strike on 19-20 February 2013 against unequal remuneration and bonuses. The company argued workers did not observe their obligations when they returned to work on 21 February 2013. While the arbitration court ruled that their dismissal was illegal, the company was not condemned to any penalty and was not ordered to reinstate workers. This case is emblematic of how the lack of effective legal remedies against anti-union discrimination is exposing workers to abuses by employers.

In the Yntai Dongxing Pipeline case, management, together with the ACFTU (All-China Federation of Trade Unions), by-passed the decision of union members concerning wage increases and the election of a local union chairperson. The strikes that were about to follow as a reaction were undermined when workers were threatened to be dismissed on 5 August 2013.

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