More than 3,000 employees at Hangzhou-based H3C Technologies Co. have been on strike for nearly three weeks in protest at plans by parent company Hewlett-Packard (HP) to restructure the company.
Employees at the networking equipment manufacturer are particularly opposed to the nomination of a new chairman, the sacking of a worker representative, and are demanding more involvement in company management and decision making.
The China Economic Weekly reported on 2 February that HP plans to send in China regional manager Mao Yunan to merge H3C with HP’s struggling server business and then sell part of the new company to a new owner.
Employees fear that Mao, who is reportedly best known for capital investment rather than business management, will clean out old managers and employees in the marketing and sales departments. They demanded that Mao be excluded from H3C management and that a staff congress be convened to initiate talks with the company. See photo below.
The workers campaign was led by the director of the marketing department, Wang Wei, who collected more than 4,400 employee signatures. Then, two days after the company announced Mao’s appointment, around 3,000 workers went out on strike on 19 January.
When Wang Wei was fired on the 23rd, the workers voted for another 38 representatives from various different departments to bargain on their behalf with HP and demand Wang’s reinstatement.
“Our representatives will not accept Wang being fired; we have already filed a lawsuit. Workers’ representatives cannot be removed like this,” one employee told the China Economic Weekly.
This is not the first time workers have mobilized against corporate restructuring, the case of Cooper Tire in Shandong is an obvious recent example, but it is unusual for employees to focus so much on one individual executive.
Possibly the last time this happened was in 2009 when workers at the Tonghua Iron and Steel plant, angry at the appointment of a new general manager tasked with privatizing the plant, stormed into his office and reportedly beat him to death. A former employee was later sentenced to death for the crime of intentional wounding.