Hainan garment workers take on European lingerie giant ‘Triumph’
Women workers at a garment factory in Hainan, southern China, began a strike on Wednesday 11 November to press their demands on pay and vacations after management announced drastic cuts in bonuses. Around 3,000 workers at the Hainan Youmei Underwear Co., Ltd in Haikou City, the provincial capital, gathered outside the plant. The factory is wholly owned by German-Swiss lingerie giant Triumph International, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of women’s underwear.
“The strike started after the management said a worker could not get year-end bonus if her production efficiency failed to reach 50 percent of the average level last year,” Mo Xiaohui, a worker at the plant told Xinhua. “That was impossible for most of us as the production dropped sharply in the financial crisis.”
“The boss wants to cut our bonus worth about 700 yuan (102 U.S. dollars), even if our monthly salary is as low as between 500 yuan and 600 yuan (73 to 88 U.S. dollars),” said a worker named Li Guihua. “It’s going too far.”
By Friday the company agreed to pay all workers their bonus, but workers decided to continue their strike over their other demands, Han Lirong, head of the firm’s official (state-controlled) union, was quoted as saying. Workers across China’s manufacturing sector, many of them migrants without job protection or rights to medical insurance and pensions, have suffered pay cuts this year as the global capitalist crisis has battered China. The government’s stimulus measures have helped save the rich, big companies and corrupt officialdom, but have not benefited factory workers and the poor.
“Now we have to go on strike as we have long been asking the company to accept our demands,” Mo said.
chinaworker.info is appealing for international support and solidarity for the women strikers in Haikou. They are pitted against a notoriously exploitative company and fighting courageously under a political regime that bans strikes and often resorts to severe repression. Solidarity action could include sending letters, faxes and emails of protest to the company (address below) or staging protests outside company offices or stores selling Triumph underwear.
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