Kewei Tongchuang lawsuit (re labour rights)
On 10 June 2014, the Xiamen Labour Dispute Arbitration Committee in Fujian Province, China ruled that it was illegal for the electronics company Kewei Tongchuang to have fired 40 workers in March 2014, after they went on a 16-day strike.
In May 2013, Kewei proposed its relocation plan and began negotiations with 40 senior workers. The company insisted that although it was willing to offer some compensation for relocation, it was not obligated to provide a “buyout offer” (which means that the company would offer the employee a severance pay based on one’s length of service). On 13 February 2014, the workers went on strike. The company suggested that if they did not return to work by 28 February, they would be fired. When the workers returned on 3 March, they were accused of violating company policy and fired.
The workers took the matter to the Labour Dispute Arbitration Committee. The panel held that the workers were absent from work with reasonable excuses, and that they had not violated company policy. The panel ruled that Kewei had illegally dissolved the labour contracts, and had to compensate the workers. Legal experts commented that this decision is rare because the Chinese Arbitration Committee tends to favour the employer.
Kewei did not accept the decision and filed a lawsuit with a local court.
- AFP: China in rare ruling favouring strikers: report, AFP, 11 Jun 2014
- Rare decision: Xiamen labour panel punishes foreign-run company in dispute over workers' strike, Keira Lu Huang, So. China Morning Post, 11 Jun 2014
- China's labour dispute resolution system, China Labour Bulletin, 30 Oct 2014
- Labor Contract Law of the People’s Republic of China, Database of Laws and Regulations, 29 Jun 2007
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A Chinese committee has ruled against an employer who fired 40 workers for going on strike…highlighting rising labour activism in the world's second largest economy. A manufacturer in the …province of Fujian sacked 40 workers in March for going on strike the previous month...[A]nalysts say that in recent years workers have become more empowered as labour shortages turn bargaining power in their favour -- though strikers still risk police detention. A government labour panel ruled that the dismissals in Fujian were illegal, said the report, citing Chinese media outlet Caixin. It added that the employer would appeal. It quoted China Institute of Industrial Relations scholar Wang Jiangsong as saying that the ruling "will give other workers and their lawyers confidence as they can view it as a guideline when handling labour dispute cases"...
Author: Keira Le Huang, South China Morning Post
A labour dispute committee penalised a foreign-run electronics company for firing 34 workers after going on strike - in a rare move that challenges an arbitration system typically seen as favouring employers. The workers had walked out of the plant in Xiamen, Fujian province, earlier this year to oppose plans to relocate the factory. Kewei Tongchuang…had accused the 34 employees on strike of violating company regulations...The striking workers…were sacked…due to “violations to company policy”. The workers challenged their termination before the Xiamen government’s labour arbitration committee. The panel ruled…that the workers had reasonable cause…[and] ordered the firm to compensate the workers. The labour committee’s decision was extraordinary as mainland labour dispute arbiters – under pressure from stability-obsessed local governments – typically decide on the basis of discouraging future strikes…The company refused to accept yesterday’s decision and will take the case to court. Although the right to strike is enshrined in the constitution, “often [a] strike is treated as absenteeism, which violates company regulations”…
Author: Sun Li in Fuzhou & He Dan, China Daily
A company illegally terminated the employment contracts of workers who staged a two-week strike, arbitrators have ruled...Coactive Technologies…planned to relocate…The company declined to offer compensation to the employees, but said it would provide housing and transportation subsidies for the inconvenience caused by the relocation. Some employees did not agree to the plan [and] hundreds of workers went on strike…[T]he firm laid off about 40 workers who went on strike on the grounds that they severely violated company regulations…The committee ruled that the workers had been laid off illegally and that the company should compensate them in line with the Labor Contract Law…Zhang Zhiru, a labor rights activist…said the arbitration result…was encouraging for workers who went on strike to fight for their rights….Zhang said Chinese law has not stated whether strikes are a legal resort or not, and some local governments that place a priority on maintaining social stability are afraid of strikes and place pressure on courts and arbitration authorities over their judgments…
- Related stories: China: Govt. labour panel rules dismissals of 40 strikers by manufacturer illegal in rare case 科维彤创开除罢工员工诉讼案摘要
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