Shanghai Hospital Custodians Strike

23:02 Nov 7 2011 Yangpu District, Shanghai China

Shanghai Hospital Custodians Strike Shanghai Hospital Custodians Strike Shanghai Hospital Custodians Strike Shanghai Hospital Custodians Strike Shanghai Hospital Custodians Strike
From Global Times:

Some 500 support staff hired by a management company to work at Xinhua Hospital went on strike Monday morning, demanding compensation for unpaid social insurance.

After an afternoon of talks failed Monday, support staff working at Xinhua Hospital said last night that they would strike for a second day today, if they cannot reach an agreement with their employer, a local cleaning services agency.

Some 500 support staff went on strike at the Yangpu district hospital at 7 am Monday morning, demanding their unpaid social insurance be compensated – a sum retroactive to 2004, when their employer, Shanghai Jichen Sanitary Rear-Service and Management Company, which contracts out the work for the hospital, failed to pay the benefits to the workers on a regular basis.

Staff told the Global Times Monday night that they were prepared for another round of strikes, "if a second day of talks fails to reach an agreement between both sides."

The management company Monday promised to repay the social insurance, which was not paid due to administrative glitches, according to Gu Weimin, head of the management company's legal department, who spoke to the Global Times Monday.

The head of the management company, Huang Chen, also made the promise Monday, adding that staff would get at least three days of annual leave.

Staff said Monday that the unfair situation has been ongoing for the past seven years, and they only resorted to striking after several failed attempts to rectify the situation with their employer.

"Since 2004, they have dealt with our social insurance illegally," Zhou Ronghua, one of the staff on strike Monday, told the Global Times. "Sometimes they paid it, and sometimes they didn't.

"We were worried about our pension upon retirement," said the man, who was hired to work at the hospital by the management company 10 years ago.

Other staff echoed similar concerns, saying that their pension is crucial to the well-being of their future since they only make 1,280 yuan ($201) per month, the lowest salary acceptable for employees in the city.

The vow to compensate the unpaid insurance, and provision of annual leave, if followed through in earnest, would meet Chinese labor laws, according to Zeng Zhihong, a lawyer who specializes in labor law at Shanghai DLF Law Firm.

"Local companies are legally obligated to pay social insurance for employees, who have the right to a minimum of five days annual leave, pending the duration of their employment," he told the Global Times Monday.

Operations at the hospital were disrupted for hours Monday, without enough staff to push hospital beds, bring medicine and meals to patients and clean, the hospital said. One patient even said that she had to push her own bed to the operating room because no one was available to help.

Wu Tao, a press officer for Xinhua Hospital, said that on-call caregivers had to come in because "it was busy, and the chaos interrupted our service to patients."

He added that if the situation happens again, the hospital will consider suing the management company for failing to fulfill their part of the deal, which is to provide reliable support staff.

From Shanghaiist:

At 8am this morning, an assortment of employees from a cleaning company refused to perform their regular morning custodial duties at the Xinhua Hospital in Shanghai's Yangpu district, and assembled for a strike over low wages.

The scene outside the Shanghai Jiaotong University-affiliated hospital consisted of the custodians, who are contracted by the hospital for cleaning, deliveries and other service work, clogging up the hospital entrance for emergencies while engaging with regular hospital staff and Zhang Q. Public's.

The cleaning staff apparently staged the strike after negotiations for better salary, rest periods and other improvements with their company were reaching a dead-end.

The situation currently remains unresolved.

As a general rule, hospitals in the mainland are notorious for their financial problems, including the widespread underpayment of medical staff. It results in hospitals becoming hotbeds of corruption and deal-making, including unfortunate situations like the recent case in Dongguan, when staff at a private hospital hid a baby boy from his parents, while demanding to be paid for maternity care.
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