Dec 25th 2014
Due to Artigas’ unpaid social insurance and housing funds, more than one thousand workers of Shenzhen Artigas Leatherwear Co. Ltd. (Qing Sheng) went on strike on December 10, 2014. The strikers demand the company pay in full the unpaid social insurance and housing funds. The strikers even stay over many nights at open space near the factory gate in order to stop the shipping of products. On the morning of December 18, more than 200 anti riot police entered the factory forcefully and violently repressed the strike. The brutal action made a number of workers fainted and injured with fractures, including passers-by. More than twenty workers were arrested. Though the workers were released after being detained for 12 hours, they were then guarded by the police and forced to return to work. Until today the Artigas management neither responded to workers’ demands nor organized genuine collective negotiations with the workers. Due to the serious lack of sincerity of the factory management and the Japanese and Hong Kong brand buyers (Uniqlo and G2000) to solve the problem, the tension continues until today.
Below is the translation of the statement released by the striking Artigas workers on December 18th immediately after the suppression and arrests. In this sense, the statement is still a good reference for the direct voice of the strikers.
Statement by Shenzhen Artigas Striking Workers , 18 Dec 2014
Strongly Condemn the Barbarous Violence against Peaceful Strikers before collective negotiations!
Clear the social security debts now! Justice for Artigas Workers!
Dec 18th 2014
We have been working at Artigas Clothing & Leatherwear Co. Ltd. In Shenzhen is producing clothing for international renowned Japanese brand Uniqlo and Hong Kong local brand G2000.
We have been working in Shenzhen Artigas clothing factory for 10—20 years and dedicated the best years of our youth to the company. Now in our retirement age, we find that company only began to contribute the social security for employees after 2003, resulting in the payment of social security simply fewer than 15 years, and that means we cannot enjoy our pension benefits. In early December, we workers gave a petition letter to the company and demand a proper response before December 8th how to pay back our social security contribution and housing provision funds. However, the management has not made any response on the two issues and did not give any suggestion how to settle the problems.
All Shenzhen Artigas workers went on strike and waited for a reply from the management.
The factory urgently arranged its shipments. To defend our rights, we workers stopped the shipping vehicles by guarding at the factory gate in the cold and windy weather. We are still waiting for our employer’s reply.
Our lawyer issued a letter to the management and invited them to enter a collective negotiation. At last an appointment on the morning of December 18th was made with the employer’s lawyer.
We are unarmed, but we were treated brutally by hundreds of anti-riot police who forcefully enter our factory!
At 8:00 this morning, we are surrounded by hundreds of armed anti-riot police who then smashed into violence and beaten up our workers. The police were invited to assist the employer to do the shipment before the negotiation appointment with workers! Many workers were arrested and detained. Over the past few days, we continued the strike in a peaceful and civilized manner and demanded our employer to clean up the debts on social security. Such violence and suppression towards us should not happen in a civilized city like Shenzhen. This is definitely not international renowned brands like Uniqlo and G2000 should do and support.
Employer undermines the basis for negotiation!
The proper solution for the problems should be through collective negotiation. However, the Artigas management and the local government worked hand in hand to attack and arrest our fellow workers in front of the lawyers from both sides who already arrived at the gate ready to involve in the negotiation. The suppression completely destroyed the trust for negotiation, intensified the problem, and thus created adverse effects on social harmony.
Violence makes people yield but it cannot convince us. This will not help solve the problems.
We were surrounded by hundreds of armed anti-riot police who forcefully enter our factory to beaten up and arrested our fellow workers. The police also forced us to vote for representatives defaulted by Artigas management, which set a very bad precedent for dealing with labor conflicts. Violent attack and arrest would only strengthen our resentment and mistrust towards the company and the local government. Our pension is still not yet been resolved, which creates a big impact on our society. This is completely a stupid approach!
We Shenzhen Artigas (Qingsheng) workers have the following demands and appeal:
- Condemn Aritgas management and the local government brutally beaten up the peaceful strikers. Clear the social security debts and justice for workers.
- Concerned citizens all over the country support us by urging the company and local government to stop violence, immediate release of the arrested workers, and conduct collective negotiations with workers.
- The international community organized solidarity actions to support our fellow workers by exerting pressure to the brands, the Shenzhen municipal government, and the All China Federation of Trade Unions to support our demands and legal rights.
Translated by Globalization Monitor
December 25th, 2014
PHOTOS OF STRIKE:
 24 workers were arrested and detained for 12 hours before being released in the night of Dec 18.