Tesco Workers Protest in Shanghai

10:29 Jan 1 2011 Qixin Road Shanghai

Tesco Workers Protest in Shanghai
From Global Times:

About 80 employees of a private food company are staging a sit-in protest in a branch of Tesco in Minhang district over a contract dispute.

The manager of Shanghai Juyong Company, Li He, and his employees are demanding compensation of 18 million yuan ($2.73 million).

According to Li, Juyong, a private food company with about 200 employees, has been operating counters selling cooked snacks in some Tesco stores for almost five years.

He claims Tesco broke an oral agreement made in April under which Juyong would provide services to three new stores in Jiangsu Province, due to open this month.

However, Li claims that on December 23, Tesco informed Juyong that it would not be requiring its services for the three stores.

Li claims his company has spent about 5 million yuan ($758,700) preparing for the three new stores, and that as such Juyong has not been able to pay its employees all year.

The protesters have not left the branch, on Qixin Road, since January 1. Previously, they had been protesting at Tesco's Guangxin Road branch in Putuo district since December 24.

On December 31, Tesco did not renew an existing contract between the two parties, under which Juyong provided services to another 10 Tesco stores in Jiangsu Province.

One of the protesters, Lin Zhaolong, told the Global Times Monday that the workers had not been paid for the whole year. "We all come from near Harbin, and have no money to get home for the Spring Festival, so we have no choice but to protest," he said.

An Liping, manager of Tesco's East China public affairs department, said that lawyers from both sides are in negotiations regarding the dispute.

According to An, after the protests became more serious, Tesco sent a new, signed contract to Juyong offering to extend cooperation, but Juyong turned down the offer.

"According to the new contract they sent us, Tesco can unilaterally end the relationship without informing us in advance. That is an unequal clause," Li said.

The new contract, seen by the Global Times, also stated that Tesco had not renewed its contract with Juyong as the latter was selling cakes in Tesco stores without permission, and said a dispute between Juyong employees and a customer, had tarnished Tesco's image.

Li admitted to both incidents, but claimed they were not the real reasons for Tesco not renewing the contract. However, he offered no other explanation.
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