Striking is not a crime – Free jailed Chinese labour rights defenders

Workers in China who organize in defense of their interests, go on strike or even petition to the government are fired, criminalized, arbitrarily detained in “black jails” outside the legal framework or sentenced to prison labour.

Wu Guijun, a migrant worker employed for 9 years making furniture at the Diweixin Product Factory in Shenzhen (southern China), has been detained since May 23 and faces criminal prosecution for defending the rights of his co-workers. Since his arrest Wu has been denied contact with his family.

Workers at the Hong Kong-owned factory sought negotiations earlier this year in response to concerns about production cutbacks and apparent preparations for relocation to another site in the Chinese interior. Seven workers were elected to represent them, including Wu, but the employer refused to disclose any information and rejected negotiations. In response, the workers downed tools on May 7 and petitioned the local government to intervene. On May 23, 300 workers were besieged by the police while marching to the City Government; more than 20 workers were arrested and detained, including Wu Guijun. All were eventually released except for Wu. According to his lawyer, Wu now faces criminal prosecution for “assembling a crowd to disturb social order”.

Indian Milk Food Factory Workers Union wins fight against union busting, restores rights

After 62 days of continuous protests the IUF-affiliated Milk Food Factory Workers Union in Punjab, India, won a crucial victory against union-busting and the erosion of working conditions by profit hungry GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare.

In an agreement reached on April 23 all suspensions were withdrawn and union members returned to work the next day. The arbitrary wage cuts imposed in February and March as punishment for union activities were also reversed and will be repaid in full.

This paved the way for a new collective agreement retroactive to October 1, 2012 that substantially improves the wages and benefits of the union’s 1,600 members and addresses the deteriorating working conditions that led to the dispute.

The union thanked the IUF-affiliated Dairy Employees Federation of India (DEFOI) and the IUF Dairy Division for their support in winning a fair deal for dairy workers in Punjab.