By Ma Latang
Thousands of workers in Dongguan, Guangdong Province staged a massive strike against new regulations imposed by their factory management on Thursday. Thousands of workers besieged their factory in Dongguan’s Huangjiang Township and blockaded the town’s main road. At one point, protesters were said to have numbered over 10,000. Conflicts broke out between riot police and protesting workers as the police tried to prevent workers from approaching the government building. Dozens of workers reportedly suffered head wounds after they were beaten by riot police.
The strike lasted about 2 hours, and now workers have returned to the factory.
The factory involved is “Yucheng Shoe Factory” (裕成鞋厂) which makes shoes mainly for New Balance. Its parent company is Pou Chen Group (宝成工业集团), which provides OEM services to top global sports brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok.
Tough regulations led to the strike
According to Radio France International, the riot erupted due to the widely-condemned new regulations set by the factory management, which even imposes restrictions on toilet visits.
According to Nanfang Daily, a paper which is under the purview of the Guangdong Communist Party Committee, the new rules axed all bonuses regardless of worker performances for as long as the factory was suffering losses.
Southern Metropolitan Daily added that the factory cancelled all extra working hours, which means a significant decline in worker wages.
A female worker tells the press that she and her husband used to work extra hours even on weekends and each could earn 1,800 to 1,900 yuan per month. Without extra work and incentive bonuses, they each could only earn around 1,100, which is barely enough to feed the family.
According to Dongguan Times, these regulations have been scrapped.
An increasingly difficult business environment
Due to the global economic turmoil, rising wages and other factors, Chinese manufacturers in coastal areas are having an increasingly difficult time, with waves of factories going bankrupt. This year alone, at least 450 foreign enterprises have closed in Dongguan.
Many factories are also trying to relocate themselves to central and western China, where the cost of labor is cheaper. Such a move is also encouraged by the government.
Dongguan Daily says Yucheng Shoe Factory, the shoe factory involved has been suffering from heavy losses. Although management has changed hands several times and efficiency has been improved, the factory continues to be in the red.
Yucheng is now planning to move to Jiangxi. On October 27th, the factory suddenly dismissed 18 section managers, in a move seen by workers as a preparation for relocation. The new regulations, which led to the strike, also aroused fear among the workers that they might be dismissed someday.