Apr 28, 2014
Tens of thousands of workers who came from China’s provinces to the city of Dongguan in Guangdong province to work in factories have gone on strike. Ten million workers in this area, called the workshop of the world, make shoes, electronics and other manufactured goods.
The strikers work for Yue Yuen shoe factory, owned by a corporation in Taiwan, making shoes for brands like Adidas and Nike. The workers began a strike on April 5th, with hundreds of workers blocking a bridge. They demanded the company pay all the money owed to their pension, health and disability funds, as required by law. When the company stalled, thousands more demonstrated, beginning on April 14th. Some banners read “Return Our Social Insurance, Return My Housing Fund!” “Shame on Yue Yuen’s Illegal Activities!”
According to the strikers’ representatives, more than 30,000 men and women workers went on strike. The next day, it spread to five of the ten factories owned by Yue Yuen in China. A woman worker said, “The factory tricked us for ten years,” referring to its failure to pay into the benefit funds. After a strike in 2011, the Yue Yuen workers got wages of 1,500 yuan a month or $250 for six-day-work weeks. Yue Yuen withheld 20 million dollars in contributions to workers’ benefit funds over several years.
The Taiwanese company, which brags on the Internet that it makes 300 million shoes annually, got 435 million dollars in profit off its 400,000 Chinese, Indonesian and Vietnamese workers. And, of course, Nike and the other big shoe companies get vastly greater profits off the labor of these same workers.
This company does not pay legally mandated benefits – and that’s completely normal.
Despite the 2,000 anti-riot police with dogs, the mobilization continues. The strikers are occupying the parking lots, sitting on plastic chairs, snacking and drinking tea. They are expressing their anger and their impatience.