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A Call on All-China Federation of Trade Unions to Speak and Act for Workers

by Chinese Workers Research Network | 30 June 2010 | No Comment | Last modified: 16 Jul 10:07 am

All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU):

The Honda workers in Foshan Guangdong could not stand the exploitation and oppression by foreign capital and waged a strike for a number of days in order to increase their wages and improve conditions for union organizing. This struggle demonstrates the heightened rights consciousness of “the new generation of migrant workers” and is a milestone in the history of worker struggles. But their struggle was waged under very difficult conditions. Not only was the enterprise union absent in the struggle, the local party and government organizations watched this struggle with their arms folded. Moreover, the local union even beat up striking workers and worker leaders were fired by the management. All of this challenged society’s conscience and the limits of our tolerance. This behavior seriously violated Article 33 in our country’s constitution that, “the state respect and protect human rights.” As is known to all, the right to strike is an inalienable part of human rights and is also a basic constitutional right of citizens all over the world. In order to support the just struggle of the Honda workers, on June 3rd the editorial collective of Chinese Workers Research Network (CWRN) and eleven scholars (including one from Japan) issued a call to support the Honda workers’ strike. More than sixty scholars, students and workers from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada, etc. joined in the call. Joan Hinton, the ninety-year-old internationalist also signed on the letter to express her support.

However, the network administration section of the state council information office not only ordered all information about this letter be erased from the internet, but also closed down CWRN’s website that publicized this letter. This infringement on the freedom of speech is against the solemn pronouncement of our constitution. This suppression of social conscience is intolerable. Therefore, we call on the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to truly stand on the side of workers, to effectively speak and act on behalf of workers, and to protect the authority of the constitution and the Trade Union Law. At the same time, we propose that ACFTU investigate and resolve the following three issues in timely fashion and report the result to the public.

One, immediately restore the jobs to the two worker leaders who were fired and compensate their economic losses.

Two, reform the union according to the demand of the Honda workers in Foshan. The leadership of the enterprise union should be democratically elected. Management must not be allowed to have their relatives or delegates take on any leadership position in the union. Union cadres will draw their earnings from membership fees.
Three, punish those who were responsible for the Shishan Township Union’s violence against workers. As Shishan Township Union had also helped management in suppressing workers, the public has reason to doubt whether it indeed stands with workers. The Guangdong Provincial Union should truly ensure that worker representatives active in the negotiation will not suffer attacks and retribution and have equal rights to elect and to be elected. This is a necessary measure by which the union can win back the trust of the workers.
July 1, 2010

Chinese Workers Research Network
Li Chengrui (former chief of the State Statistic Bureau)
Gong Xiantian (Professor, Beijing University)
Li Minqi (Assistant Professor, University of Utah)
Chan Kingchi (Assistant Professor, City University of Hong Kong)

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