More than 1,000 workers at the cloth-weaving section of the Heze Cotton Textile Factory staged a five-day strike against low pay in February. Most strikers were women and the workers’ actions has affected the production of the company's other factories.
At best workers in this factory earn 5,000 yuan per year, but each of the eight factory managers earned 500,000 yuan a year.
The official trade union in the factory and the city-level trade union did not intervene to help the workers. The factory leaders issued a form for workers to fill out, asking them to sign it and agree to go back to work. If they did not sign it within 15 days, they would be considered as resigning voluntarily.
Chinese labour activist Xiao Yunliang was released from prison on 23 February, only 24 days before the end of his four-year jail sentence.
Xiao and Yao Fuxin led around 2,000 workers from Liaoyang Ferroalloy Factory and 15,000 workers from five other factories in a series of large public demonstrations in Liaoyang in March 2002. Yao is still in prison and is not due to be released until March 2009.
The 2002 demonstrations were against corruption in the factory — which they argued was a direct cause of its bankruptcy — and called for unpaid wages and other owed benefits, including pensions, to be paid.
Xiao was secretly detained on 20 March 2002 and then formally charged with the crime of “conducting an illegal assembly and demonstration.” Subsequently, he was accused of involvement in the banned China Democracy Party (CDP) and charged with “subversion”.
According to Xiao’s daughter “public security officers” are keeping watch on his house. While in prison Xiao had stones in his liver, a cyst on his right kidney and suffered from chronic gastritis. He got tuberculosis when he was held in a detention centre and now has calcified lungs. His family had to pay for his medical treatment in prison.
According to China Labor Bulletin, the Chinese authorities' continue their crackdown on the labour movement because they fears that any labour action in China would result in a movement similar to Poland's Solidarity movement in 1980s.