China: one of the terrible ten worst countries for workers’ rights
China makes the top ten for widespread cases abuses, workers employed in precarious work and the country’s lack of due process. Strikes and pickets are illegal and workers involved in either face threats and harassment by both employers and government officials. There’s also widespread discrimination and the chance of arrest for speaking out.
Physical attacks and threats: Workers participating in strikes and pickets faced threats and harassment by both employers and government officials throughout the country. Wide-scale abuses can be explained by the fact that there is no explicit recognition of the right to strike. Therefore, protests and strike actions are often treated as public security issues.
Criminalisation of workers at Guangzhou Chinese medicine hospital: In February 2013, nearly 200 health workers and security guards employed at the First Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine through employment agency were dismissed without prior notice and severance pay. In June 2013, the workers organised a picket at the hospital demanding severance pay. As a result, health workers were offered RMB 20,000 compensation. However, the agency that employed the security guards continued to refuse to pay severance. During the protest, workers clashed with police and were arrested. Twelve security workers were prosecuted after 4 months’ detention for “assembling a crowd to disturb public order” under Article 290 of the Criminal Law. In April 2014, the district court found all workers guilty and sentenced three workers to a 9-month imprisonment and six workers to 8-month imprisonment. Charges against the remaining three workers were dropped and they were released.
The Terrible Ten:
At the ILO conference earlier this month, the International Trade Union Confederation launched its 2015 Global Rights Index, detailing the ten worst countries for workers’ rights abuses in the world, and reporting in detail violations in those and many more. Stronger Unions is profiling one of the terrible ten each day.