Managers freed as strike continues

By Chen Xiaoru in Shanghai Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-23 0:38:02

More than 1,000 workers at Shanghai Shinmei Electric Company remained on strike Tuesday after at least seven senior managers, including Japanese nationals, were freed from the plant after being held for a day and a half.

The wildcat strike began Friday in protest over new rules that limit workers' bathroom breaks and imposes stiff fines for being late. Workers are also upset with a ban on overtime hours that has cut workers' pay by some 60 percent.

The workers refused to allow senior managers, including Japanese nationals, to leave and demanded they arrange talks with the company's boss.

"We gave them food and water, and told them to make phone calls to the boss, but they refused," a worker surnamed Li told the Global Times.

The police released the managers and expelled the workers from the plant at 11:50 pm Saturday, according to the AP.  Four workers have been detained by police, said Li.

"According to the new rules, the company will dock our pay 150 yuan ($24) the first time we are late.  If we're late a second time they'll fire us," said Li, adding that the new rules only allow workers two minutes for a bathroom break.

Some workers first walked off the job Thursday but by Friday all the workers had joined the strike. The workers besieged the managers' office on Friday morning demanding a meeting with company owners, said Li.

Li claimed that they only detained seven senior staff. The company claims that 10 Japanese and eight Chinese were held.

A source close to local police confirmed with the Global Times that the company's management refused to talk to the workers about their concerns.

The new rules were not the only cause of the walkout. The ban on overtime, implemented last year has seen worker income drop significantly. "We were not allowed to work overtime for extra payment after the company employed a new Japanese general manager. Most workers are losing more than 1,000 yuan a month," Li said.

Li said this year his monthly take home pay has dropped to just 2,000 yuan, down from 3,500 yuan per month last year.

The workers talked to an owner representative and company lawyer on Monday and were offered a 10 percent pay raise in March if they return to work on Wednesday, Li told the Global Times, adding that he will only know if the other workers will accept the offer when he shows up at the factory on Wednesday morning.

Zhang Qin, an employee with the Shanghai government press office, said she had no additional information about the strike.

Zhou Boyang contributed to this story

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