Agency workers at the FAW-Volkswagen have been campaigning for months for equal pay. Ditto for agency workers at China Mobile in Guangyuan. At Shaanxi Yanchang, long-time workers get entry level salaries, no overtime, and no benefits.
Beijing (AsiaNews/CLB) – Even years after major legislation was passed to curb abuse of agency labour and guarantee equal pay, agency workers are still fighting for their basic legal rights across China, particularly at State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Under Chinese law, agency work is supposed to be a “supplementary” form of labour; yet, agency workers often find themselves working for years alongside full employees, performing the same work for significantly less pay and benefits.
Agency workers are well aware of their rights, and their collective actions are not uncommon. For months, agency workers at China’s FAW-Volkswagen plant, a majority state-owned joint venture, in the northeast city of Changchun have made international headlines in their long campaign for equal pay.
Two other agency worker actions demanding equal pay at SOEs occurred in July.
China Mobile workers in Guangyuan, Sichuan, held a demonstration at the company’s provincial headquarters demanding compensation as the company tries to outsource their work.
After Guangyuan China Mobile branch decided to stop working with two local labour agency companies, workers were told on 24 July in a meeting that they were to be layoff immediately.
Seventy workers gathered at the provincial headquarters to demand compensation for unequal pay during their years of service.
Workers also demanded double compensation, in accordance with Chinese law, as the company failed to give them at least one month’s notice before termination.
Similar incidents have occurred at China Mobile in the past, including a protest a year ago by workers in neighbouring Guang’an, Sichuan, just 300 kilometres from Guangyuan.
On 24 July, more than one hundred agency workers representing over 3,000 agency workers at oil fields across the county gathered at the Shaanxi Yanchang petroleum headquarters demanding equal pay.
The workers were employed by the company for about a decade, but still received entry level low pay and a lack of benefits.
In an open letter to the company, workers reported that full employees received around 5,000 yuan a month while agency workers only 2,000 yuan. In addition, agency workers reported the lowest bonuses and performance pay rates.
Workers held banners at the company headquarters and demanded a response from the company, but were met with police. Minor clashes ensued.
Catholic leaders and women's rights campaigners slam the High Court ruling as "retrograde, outrageous and very dangerous". The Delhi Archbishop said: "The situation of women continues to worsen."
The firm's sales director says: "An exaggerated incident. This is not a wage cut but a redistribution of the salary grid". The workers charge: "They are racist. They treat us like slaves."