From email@example.com Thu Mar 28 11:00:06 2002
From: ICFTU Press <firstname.lastname@example.org>
ICFTU Online <email@example.com>
Subject: ICFTU OnLine: China & workers' rights
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 16:36:47 +0100
Brussels, March 28, 2002 (ICFTU Online): As workers' protests against corruption, staged bankruptcies and non-payment of wages spread through China's North-Eastern provinces, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has expressed fears for the physical safety of several independent labour leaders arrested over the last two weeks. The world's largest umbrella body for national trade union centers is particularly concerned over the fate of Yao Fuxin, aged 54, elected representative of an independent workers' organization at the Ferrous Alloy Factory (FAF) in Liaoyang (capital of Liaoning Province) and arrested on 17th March 2002. The ICFTU believes he has been severely mistreated by public security officials after being detained or that he may actually have been killed while under official custody.
It said a Public Security Bureau (PSB) official had earlier this week
visited Yao's wife and informed them that he was
in a very serious
condition, at the hospital, after having suffered a heart attack
the PSB had already sent an amount of 10,000 Yuan to the
hospital for his medical treatment. The ICFTU said it had verified
that Yao Fuxin was in a perfect state of health prior to his detention
and had never suffered any heart problems.
The charges come in 8-page ICFTU complaint against China's government, lodged yesterday before the Committee on Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ICFTU complaint, to which the Government is obliged to respond under ILO rules, includes two letters sent by the ICFTU to China's President, Jiang Zemin on 15 and 27th March.
They bring detailed information about repressive measures taken by the authorities against independent workers' movements which have appeared over the last four weeks in Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Sichuan provinces. At least five workers, including Yao Fuxin, remain in detention in Liaoyang and are expected to be formally charged in the coming days with holding illegal workers' protests.
The ICFTU also protested the arrest of a dozen workers at the Guangyuan Textile Factory, in Sichuan Province, where over 1,000 workers have been staging a strike since 13 March. The police beat up several strikers at a picket line outside the factory, and about a dozen have been detained on 18th March.
In its ILO complaint, the ICFTU also expressed fears over the fate of leaders and members of the Daqing PAB Retrenched Workers' Provisional Union Committee, established in early March at the Daqing oilfields, in Heilongjiang province. The Union Committee's members are protesting at the suppression by the company of winter heating subsidies, and at the arbitrary increase in the amount that each worker is required to pay annually into the company's social security fund. PetroChina, the country's largest energy corporation, listed on the Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges, owns the company. PetroChina, which laid off over 50,000 workers in the Daqing oilfields alone, last year posted net profits of RMB 27.168 Billion, an increase of 17.8% over 2000.
Similar workers' protests have recently taken place in the Fuyon, Sonjiang and Huabei (Hebei province) oilfields, amid signs of increased nervousness by the authorities, which have deployed thousands of armed police to face workers' demonstrations in several cities. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which enjoys a legal monopoly over trade union activities in the country, has so far not reacted officially to any of the protests nor to news of the arrests.
The ICFTU said it would request its worldwide membership to call on the PRC authorities to release the detained labour activists and respect internationally-guaranteed trade union rights. It said it would also encourage its affiliates and the Global Union Federations (GUF) to use any contacts they might have with the ACFTU to press for the realisation of these demands.