RFA: Workers Strike at Chinese Shipyard, Demand Three Months' Back-Pay

China Labour Bulletin is quoted in the following article. Copyright remains with the original publisher

18 September 2015

More than 1,000 workers at a shipbuilding yard in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu are on strike over unpaid wages, workers told RFA on Friday, as the industrial action entered its third day.

Around one-fifth of the 5,000-strong workforce at the Sinopacific-owned shipyard in Jiangsu's Dayang city walked out on Wednesday, saying they are owed three months' wages by management, striking workers said.

The workers had gathered outside the factory gates, warily watched by security guards, but no clashes had taken place by Friday morning, a worker surnamed Tang said.

"There are about a dozen security guards here, but they won't move in, and we won't attack them," Tang said.

"There hasn't been any violence, and I certainly wouldn't get involved in that; we just want our wages," he said. "We haven't blocked any traffic, either. We are just outside the inner gates and they won't let us in, and they won't let us out."

Tang said the factory was widely believed to be in financial difficulties.

"The factory has no money and they owe us wages, which they are supposed to pay every month on the 25th, but then it never lands," he said.

"This has been going on for three-and-a-half months. I think that if we don't get it by Monday, the whole place will be blocked up [by striking workers]," Tang said.

But a second striking worker surnamed He said the workers had been negotiating with management over an interim compromise.

"They are giving us a month’s pay, because we haven't had any, and we've been coming to work this whole time," He said.

"It has been sorted, so you don't need to ask me anymore, right?"

But he added: "If they still don't pay us next month, I'll get in touch with you."

An employee who answered the phone at the Dayang shipyard offices declined to comment on the dispute, hanging up when asked about it.

Normal operations

In April, Sinopacific Shipbuilding Group (SSG) chief Simon Liang said the company's yards in Qidong, Dayang Shipyard and Zhejiang Shipbuilding, were operating normally in spite of media reports of delays.

Some reports had indicated that workers and suppliers weren't being paid, and that supplies were no longer being delivered.

Liang told the industry website TradeWinds that the Dayang yard had doubled its orders this year.

But he added: "Because of the huge increase in our planned activity and the slowdown and change in the Chinese financial system, it has affected us."

"In the past, we could arrange financing all by ourselves but the credit squeeze by Chinese financial institutions means we have to find alternatives," the website quoted him as saying.

Liang took over the role of chief executive earlier in the year, after former chief Wang Jianping resigned because the two men had "different views" on how to run it, he said.

China has seen at least 1,622 industrial disputes and strikes since the beginning of this year, 1,211 of which were over wage arrears, the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin's Strike Map showed on Friday.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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