Second Anniversary of Zhou Jianrong’s Suicide
On 17 July, Chinese labour activists commemorated the second anniversary of the death of Zhou Jianrong, a forty-nine-year-old worker at a Hong Kong-owned footwear factory in Shenzhen. Two years ago, Zhou committed suicide by jumping out of her dormitory after being fired for her role in organising a strike. Since May 2014, Zhou and her co-workers had been struggling with the management over the issue of compensation following the company’s ownership restructuring. They were concerned they would lose out. In the protracted struggle, more than one hundred workers were fired by management. On 16 July, the day before the suicide, the company had fired another sixteen activist workers, including Zhou. In Shenzhen, it would have been extremely difficult for female workers over the age of forty to find any factory work, and the loss of her job deeply distressed Zhou. Two years later, her death is not forgotten. A candlelight vigil was held in the office of a labour NGO in Guangzhou with more than a dozen former worker representatives and activists from Zhou’s factory. They proposed to mark 17 July as the ‘Day of Suffering of Chinese Workers’.