Sit-in strike by Hitachi workers in Shenzhen

Over 2,000 workers at a Japanese hard-disk factory in Shenzhen, southern China, have been on strike since Sunday over severance pay. The strikers have staged a sit-in to block the entrance of Hailiang Storage Products Co, a subsidiary of Hitachi, accusing Japanese bosses of bullying Chinese workers.

Hitachi is selling its stake in the Shenzhen subsidiary to US-based Western Digital Corp. The deal fails to stipulate workers’ compensation and workers fear they will be treated as new employees when the American bosses take over.

Radio Free Asia quoted a worker representative as saying a Japanese manager told the workers that the amount of time they worked at the company will be discounted, wiping out their severance pay altogether.

Throughout this week hundreds of workers have staged a sit-in outside the factory, holding banners demanding compensation and calling the company’s decision to dispense with severance pay “shameful.”

A Japanese manager reportedly visited the factory on Monday but failed to persuade strikers to return to work.

Sit-in at factory gates

“The company has around 4,500 workers and technicians, none of whom have worked since Sunday night. More than 2,000 of the employees have been involved in the sit-in,” said Xu Xunhua, a spokesperson for the workers.

Workers also blocked the company’s warehouse to stop products from being shipped from the site. Western Digital’s takeover of the plant is set to completed by March next year.

We don’t know whether the new company will fire us or not. We also don’t know whether the new company will treat us as fresh employees,” Xu said, adding labourers had asked for a settlement allowance. “We are asking for compensation, as many of us have worked for years for Hailiang Storage.”

The workers are also disputing payments for overtime work, which led to an earlier strike at Hailiang in 2007.

A technician who has worked for Hailiang for twelve years said his monthly salary had shrunk from 4,000 yuan to just over 3,000 yuan today.

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