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Jasic Strike Paves the Way for Yet Another Crackdown on Labour NGOs

On 24 July, a group of workers at Shenzhen Jasic Technology, were beaten up by security guards and arrested by police while protesting against their illegal dismissal. Back in May they had reported the company to the local authorities for illegally manipulating work schedules, using a punitive system of fines, underpaying social insurance and housing funds, and blacklisting employees. The local branch of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) had, at that time, suggested that workers organise a factorylevel union. This prompted the workers to gather 89 signatures out of a labour force of 1,000 for the union membership application (see Zhang Yueran’s op-ed in this issue). Instead of heeding their call, management proceeded to create its own ‘worker representatives committee’, which excluded candidates nominated by the workers. The local authorities and the ACFTU withdrew their original support for the workers’ union and claimed that the unionising was illegal. In the wake of the arrests, the protest gained solidarity not only from fellow workers elsewhere, but also from Maoist student-activists. As the protest grew, on 24 August the government cracked down on workers and the solidarity group, detaining dozens and subsequently charging a number of individuals. On the same day, state media published articles accusing Dagongzhe Zhongxin, a Shenzhen-based labour NGO, of instigating Jasic workers at the behest of ‘hostile foreign forces’ based in Hong Kong. Almost three years after the crackdown of December 2015, once again the Party-state is exploiting a specific case to target labour NGOs as a whole. Nevertheless, the explicit demand for unionisation, the open defiance against management and police assaults, and an emerging student-worker alliance distinguishes the Jasic case, making it a surprising development in a period of downturn for China’s labour movement. KL

(Sources: China Labour Bulletin; Red Balloon Solidarity; Reuters; South China Morning Post; Weiquanwang; Xinhua)

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