Zhengzhou Construction Machinery Co. Workers Protest in Zhengzhou, Henan

16:58 Oct 31 2003 Zhengzhou, Erqi District, Zhengzhou City, Henan, China

From CLB:

On 31 October, employees of the Zhengzhou Construction Machinery Group Inc. blocked the factory entrance in protest against the violation of worker’s interests and benefits that has been occurring as the company undergoes restructuring. In particular, the workers are challenging the legitimacy of the government’s plan to transfer control over the factory’s assets to a new management body on a zero-price basis. The protests continued without resolution, and on 6 November more than 300 employees joined the sit-in demonstration outside the factory gates, halting production completely. At one point, according to a local police officer, the workers also blocked roads leading to the factory.

A local government official stated that the government’s policy was to avoid direct conflict with the protesting workers at all costs. Instead, officials had been visiting the homes of the most active demonstrators at night to “warn them of the consequences” of their actions. According to the chairman of the municipal machinery workers’ trade union, workers’ protests have not been confined to the Zhengzhou Construction Machinery Group. The city government had recently relinquished control over a first batch of 33 local state-owned factories, and workers from many of the affected factories had also been staging protest demonstrations and blocking roads elsewhere in the city. Besides fearing redundancy and long-term unemployment as a result of the Zhengzhou state enterprise reforms, the workers are particularly concerned that they may lose their medical insurance entitlement.

In a remarkable show of honesty, the union chairman admitted that it was impossible for the official trade union to take any initiatives towards resolving the machinery workers’ protest, or to assist in any negotiations between the government and the enterprise, because the union was under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. He concluded, “It is impossible for the trade union in China [ACFTU] to act independently while the Communist Party is still around.”
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