Chinese workers demand compensation after asked to bark

Workers of a foreign firm in China are seeking compensation alleging that they have been asked to "bark like dogs" at monthly meetings.

Beijing: Workers of a foreign firm in
China are seeking compensation alleging that they have been
asked to "bark like dogs" at monthly meetings, the latest
dispute to hit international companies here which were hit by
a spate of strikes over pay and conditions in recent months.

Twenty six former employees of the Shenzhen-based
Chloride Phoenixtec Electronics Company in southern Guangdong
Province had appealed to the city`s labour arbitration
authority, demanding that the company compensate them for
insults and for the unfair dismissal of seven of them, state
run Global Times reported today.

The workers, from the company`s production department,
claimed that their former general manager, Zhang Hongyi,
"humiliated workers by asking some of them to bark like dogs
in front of their co-workers" during the company`s monthly

They also claimed that the company hadn`t paid them
a hot-weather subsidy - a summertime benefit that they are
entitled to by law.

"We had collectively filed an application with the
local arbitration committee against the company.

And we were also considering appealing to the local
court about the company threatening the employees` families
over the phone and insulting the employees by asking them to
bark like dog at monthly meetings," Song Jinhua, who had been
fired by the company said.

He claimed that he was fired along with six
co-workers for appearing in TV interviews about the incident.
Hu Yunqing, the lawyer representing the 26 former
employees, said it was a typical case involving local
employees of a foreign company who are seeking to uphold their
legal rights.

Hu said she won a gender-discrimination case against
the same company last year.

"A female employee of Chloride Phoenixtec was
transferred to a less-important position after her pregnancy
and nursing period and was monitored and discriminated against
after the transfer," Hu said.

Ex-manager Zhang, the claims had been exaggerated by
a few ex-employees.

"I don`t remember whether I asked people to bark in
meetings, and even if I did, it would have been only a joke,"
he told the daily.

Zhang insisted that the management methods he
applied were "very much human-concerned."
Pugi Gianluca, an Italian who just took over as
general manager of the company, he didn`t know whether Zhang
asked the employees to bark but the manager won’t be fired.

"The main reason for the strike is that the employees
were asking for better working conditions, better shifts,
higher bonuses and salaries," Gianluca said.

Labour disputes between Chinese employees and foreign
management are nothing new in China. Just a month ago, a South
Korean boss at a South Korean moulding plant in Dongguan,
Guangdong, had to pay nearly USD 2,955 to a Chinese worker for
beating him seriously.

These similar accidents also come at a time when
labour disputes are on the rise in this south China province
amid a labour shortage. Workers often demand higher salaries
and better working conditions.

Companies such as Honda and Foxconn have agreed to
raise workers` basic salaries by more than 30 per cent
following walkouts and a spate of suicides.

Ren Hucheng, a Beijing-based lawyer specialising in
labour law said labour disputes are likely to occur in
labour-intensive industries such as the garment sector, food
processing, electronics manufacturing and private companies,
rather than in State-owned firms.

The lengthy procedures involving in settling the
rising number of labour disputes impede workers from
effectively protecting their rights, he said "Compared with
other legal cases, labour disputes must be submitted to the
local arbitrary committee first before they enter into hearing
procedures, and it could even take six months for some cases
to complete the whole arbitration procedure, which has already
been reduced to the minimum," Ren said.


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