Hundreds Protest Job Losses at Apple Supplier Factory in China's Jiangsu

2015-08-04
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Workers fill the lobby of a factory to protest job losses in Jiangsu, China, Aug. 3, 2015.
Workers fill the lobby of a factory to protest job losses in Jiangsu, China, Aug. 3, 2015.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Hundreds of workers protested outside a Taiwan-invested Apple supplier in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu on Tuesday in a continuing dispute over what they said were unfair dismissals, striking workers told RFA.

Workers at the Kesheng Technology factory, which makes alloy casings for smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and is owned by Taiwan-based Apple supplier Catcher Technology, began their strike on Monday after they returned from an enforced period of paid leave to find that their ID cards had been canceled.

According to social media posts, workers are angry that the factory ordered them to take leave, before summarily dismissing them on their return.

Around 10 people were injured in clashes with police on Monday, they said.

Video of the strike seen by RFA showed large numbers of police dispersing protesters from the scene, with several encircling and beating one protester, while the crowd chanted: "Police are beating people!"

A protester surnamed Zhao said striking workers had refused to give ground, and that the strike had continued on Tuesday.

Pollution complaints


A former Kesheng worker surnamed Liu said the factory is planning to relocate following complaints of pollution in the local environment.

"I already quit my job there, because they have been saying for a while that they will be relocating the factory," Liu said. "I heard that there was an incident there [on Monday] with clashes and so forth."

"There were a lot of people; things really escalated. It wasn't just one or two people making trouble."

A factory manager surnamed Cao declined to comment on the strike, however.

"You shouldn't call and ask me; I have nothing to tell you about this matter. You should call the general manager," he said.

Another management executive surnamed Yuan said production was continuing as normal in spite of the protest.

"There has been no impact [on our operations]," she said. "But I don't know much about this incident."

Meanwhile, a former supplier of Kecheng surnamed Li said he had stopped doing business with the company amid reports that it would soon relocate.

"We haven't worked with them for several months now, and they have paid off all of their accounts owed to us for the supply of goods," Li said.

An employee who answered the phone at Catcher Technology in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan declined to comment.

"You should speak to our spokesperson, but he's not in Taiwan right now, [he's in mainland China]," she said.

Growing wave of protests


The Kecheng strike comes amid a sharp increase in industrial disputes that were formerly centered largely on the southern industrial powerhouse of Guangdong, but are now increasingly seen across the rest of China too, the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin (CLB) reported last month.

Taxi drivers and construction workers joined factory workers in a growing wave of strikes and protests across China in the second quarter of this year.

The group said it had recorded 568 strikes and worker protests in the second quarter of 2015, bringing the total for this year to around 1,218 labor disputes, compared with 1,379 for the whole of 2014.

Of the total, 57 disputes were recorded in Jiangsu.

"In the manufacturing sector, the economic slowdown continues to hurt workers with factory closures and wage arrears prompting at total of 192 strikes and protests during the quarter," CLB said in a report on its website.

It cited absconding bosses as a major factor in such labor disputes, particularly in the furniture manufacturing sector.

Several furniture factory owners changed their telephone numbers and skipped town, leaving workers in Guangdong's Dongguan industrial district with unpaid wages, CLB said.

The construction industry also contributed to the number of strikes, accounting for around a quarter of all industrial disputes from April to June, it said.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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