More than twenty worker activists at the former Tianwang Textile Factory in Xianyang city, Shaanxi Province, have been arrested by police after a seven week factory-wide strike by around 6,800 workers.
Neither the detainees’ names nor the charges on which they are being held are known. According to the China Labour Bulletin, Xianyang courts also issued a “wanted notice” for three other workers from the same factory.
The police are aiding the local authorities’ who want to stop workers from electing a factory-level trade union and registering it with the official trade union organisation, the ACFTU, as allowed for under the 2001 Trade Union Law.
The textile workers’ strike in Xianyang is unprecedented in China since the start of the country’s economic reforms in 1978, both in terms of its duration and of the determination and unity of the workforce.
The Xianyang Huarun workers, most of them women, began their strike action on 14 September in protest at attempts by the factory’s new majority shareholder — China Resources (Holdings) Co. Ltd, a mainland-invested company listed in Hong Kong, New York and London — to force them to sign unfair contracts.
Five workers from a Taiwanese-owned shoe factory, Stella International’s Xing Ang Shoe Factory, in the southern city of Dongguan, Guangdong Province, have been sentenced to between two and three and a half years’ imprisonment on charges arising from a mass protest by workers at the factory in April.
All five defendants were convicted on criminal charges of “intentional destruction of property” following a closed-door trial in August that lasted just over an hour. They were singled out as the leaders of mass protest by around 1,000 workers at the shoe factory over low wages, wage arrears and the poor meals provided at the factory’s canteen.
Five other workers at a neighbouring Stella International factory, who had been involved in a similar protest action were also arrested.
Workers in the new export-orientated industries in China are engaging in class struggle, despite the overwhelming forces of the Chinese state and the multinational companies weighing against them.