Jinzhushan Mine Strike in Hunan

01:29 Aug 22 2009 Jinzhushan hunan province

From CLB:

Several thousand workers at the Hunan Coal Industry Group have entered the tenth day of a strike in a protest over the company’s proposed privatization and stock exchange listing plans.

The strike began on 22 August when managers at the group’s Jinzhushan mine in central Hunan tried to force miners starting their shift to sign lay-off compensation agreements that took no account of how long they had worked at the mine. Those who refused to sign the agreement were not allowed to work.

The agreements clearly violated the Labour Contract Law, which states that terminated employees should be compensated one month’s wages for every year they have worked for their employer. Many workers had been employed at the mine for nearly 30 years, workers said.

Workers at the Jinzhushan mine informed their colleagues at the group’s three other mines, who quickly orchestrated a coordinated strike action involving up to 5,000 workers.

The strike is the third major protest over the proposed privatization of a state-owned enterprise (SOE) in little over a month, and it illustrates workers’ increasing awareness of their rights and confidence in their own ability to take strike action in defense of those rights. See CLB’s latest report on the workers’ movement in China (2007-2008).

Moreover, the workers were obviously well informed about the two recent strikes in Jilin and Henan that successfully stalled SOE privatizations. The South China Morning Post quoted one worker as saying; “We have not beaten anyone, we have not detained anyone, and we have not destroyed any company property. All we want is an answer,” a clear reference to the strikes at Tonghua Iron and Steel, where a senior manager was killed, and Linzhou Iron and Steel, in which a manger was held hostage for several days.

The authorities are now clearly anxious to stop this latest strike from escalating into violence and to prevent news of the incident getting into the public domain and potentially encouraging even more protests. The strikers told Radio Free Asia that they had contacted dozens of television stations and other media outlets but only the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television covered the story, indicating that government controls over the domestic media are as stringent and effective as ever.

Local government officials are currently negotiating with both managers and workers in an attempt to prevent the dispute from escalating further. Workers stated that the company had recruited local thugs at 200 yuan per person per day to form a “mine protection corps” (护矿队) that would forcibly remove strikers from the mine premises.

However, the local government, perhaps mindful of a protest at another state-owned mine in Hunan two years’ earlier that erupted into a full-scale battle between miners and security forces, swiftly intervened and ordered the corps to be disbanded.

On 8 August 2007, more than 800 mineworkers at the Tanjiashan mine in Xiangtan staged a strike over arrears in the payment of final severance packages and social security contributions. Early in the morning of 15 August, more than 200 temporary security guards used physical force to break up the strike. The miners retaliated and in the ensuing mêlée at least one miner and a security guard were killed. Over 20 other people were injured, and two police cars destroyed by the enraged workers.

While controlling the excesses of management however, officials have also reportedly warned strikers that they might be detained and arrested if they do not call off the strike and return to work soon.

From Boxun:


湘煤集团金竹山公司所属四个矿井2000多职工集体罢工,这是自1992年以来又一次重大罢工事件。 金竹山买断职工工龄,现在我们湘煤集团要上市,要国有企业职工买断工龄企业不给钱,现在只有我们涟邵没有买断,金竹山公司要改制职工买断工龄,而职工买断工龄没有钱,请求政府管一管,托山煤矿职工.。 (博讯

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