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China: Huawei comes under fire over employee detained for eight months after demanding severance pay

Li Hongyuan, a former employee at Huawei for 13 years, was reportedly arrested on extortion charges and detained for 8 months after demanding severance pay from the company. Li was released because of “unclear criminal facts and insufficient evidence”.

Huawei has been criticized for its treatment of a longtime employee and come under fire as members of the public rallied behind Li.

Huawei said in a statement that it encouraged Li “to use any and all legal measures, including suing the company, in order to safeguard his own rights”. 

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Article
5 December 2019

China: Huawei invites detained former employee to sue to safeguard his own rights

Author: China Labour Bulletin (Hong Kong)

“Huawei invites detained former employee to sue”, 3 December 2019

Telecom giant Huawei has urged former employee, Li Hongyuan, who was detained in Shenzhen for eight months on extortion charges, to sue the company if he feels his rights have been violated.

In a statement… the company told The Paper that it has the right and the responsibility to report any suspected illegal activities to the authorities and that Huawei encouraged Li to use any and all legal measures, including suing the company, in order to safeguard his own rights.

Li’s wife told The Paper however that they had no immediate plans to sue Huawei and just wanted an apology.

Huawei has faced widespread criticism on social media in China for its handling of the Li Hongyuan case and its statement… has not improved its image. Much of the online criticism has now been deleted by the censors.

Huawei and other major technology companies were already under fire for promoting the so-called 996 work culture that forces employees to work excessively long hours, and this latest incident has only reconfirmed existing opinions about the abusive work practices of these corporations…

Huawei has used a heavy-handed approach to employee relations for many years now. In 2007, for example, the company forced thousands of long-term employees to resign and re-join the company on short-term contracts so that it would not be bound by the unlimited contract provisions of the Labour Contract Law due to go into effect the following year.

Around the same time, there was a rash of suicides or unexplained deaths at the company which gave rise to criticism of Huawei’s so-called “wolf culture,” which encouraged employees to dedicate all their energy to the benefit of the company.

Huawei employees are undoubtedly very well paid but clearly the cost for many employees is too high…

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Article
4 December 2019

China: Huawei comes under fire over employee detained for eight months after demanding severance pay

Author: The Guardian (UK)

“Huawei under fire in China over employee detained for eight months”, 2 December 2019

The Chinese telecom corporation Huawei has come under fire in its own country as members of the public rallied behind a former employee detained for eight months after demanding severance pay from the company.

… Li Hongyuan, a Huawei employee of 13 years, was arrested on extortion charges and detained until… he was released because of “unclear criminal facts and insufficient evidence”, according to court documents posted online by Li.

According to Li… he had negotiated termination compensation of about 300,000 yuan (£33,000), which was transferred to him through a secretary’s private account. The case has caused a wave of criticism over the company’s treatment of a longtime employee and questions about Chinese law punishing someone advocating for their employee rights. Huawei has not confirmed the lawsuit nor commented on the allegations.

On the social network Weibo, users were posting the numbers “985, 996, 035, 251, 404” a riff on the “996” culture of Chinese technology companies of working 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

In the case of Li, the numbers refer to graduating from one of the country’s 985 top universities, being fired at the age of 35, detained for 251 days, and seeing all related reports censored. The code was trending on Weibo…

In an open letter addressed to the Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei, Li wrote: “It wasn’t my intention to cause so much attention online and I am sorry about it. Also, I don’t regret my choice for speaking the truth. There is always a cost to being honest.”…

The criticism from within China is rare for Huawei, one of the most popular brands within the country and a symbol of national pride…

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