A bitter and at times violent dispute at a Japanese-owned handbag and luggage manufacturer in the Pearl River Delta town of Zhongshan entered its tenth day today.
The strike at the Cuiheng bag factory erupted on 24 March when around 200 workers staged a protest over the non-payment of social security and housing fund contributions, year-end bonuses and other benefits.
Management refused to negotiate, sacked ten of the workers and called the police. About 200 riot police arrived at the factory and clashes ensued during which many workers were injured and 25 were detained. Some of the workers were subsequently released but activists say four remain in Cuikou police station. Two other women workers were also briefly detained by police yesterday.
Police move into the Cuiheng factory to confront workers
The Cuiheng strike came a day after several thousand workers at a shoe factory in Zhongshan staged a mass protest at the company’s failure to pay housing fund contributions for ten years. More than ten workers were detained in scuffles with police.
The workers’ new focus on the housing fund issue came after the neighbouring city of Dongguan issued new regulations making it more difficult for workers to withdraw their housing fund contributions. This inspired workers elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta to demand payment of housing fund contributions and other benefits that had been denied to them for years, even decades on end.