Statement of Solidarity with Chinese Labor Activists
As labor organizers with a special responsibility for the education of young people, the Executive Board of the Massachusetts Society of Professors stands with the workers and students who have been detained by the government of the People’s Republic of China following their pursuit of justice at Shenzhen Jasic Technology. We steadfastly support the global call (see text below) for the fair treatment of all of these labor activists—both the workers themselves and the students who have organized in solidarity with them.
Global Call on China to Release Arrested Jasic Labor Activists
We stand with the workers and their allies unjustly arrested for unionizing and organizing solidarity actions in China.
In May, workers at Shenzhen Jasic Technology reported to the local authorities the company’s labor rights violations such as illegal work rotas, an illegal system of fines, and underpayment of social insurance contributions. Acting on the advice of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), workers organized a union drive in accordance to China Trade Union Law and their co-workers signed a petition in support of union recognition.
Rather than recognizing the union, the worker organizers were accused by management and the ACFTU of illegally unionizing, and were threatened and fired by Jasic. When the fired workers staged protests, they were arrested on July 27 by the authorities (Amnesty International: China Thirty people detained at factory worker protest must be released.) 14 of the 29 arrested workers and their allies remain in detention.
Progressive students, workers, and labor rights activists in China organized a series of solidarity actions in Shenzhen for the Jasic workers over the following weeks. But they too were harassed and arrested. Riot police arrested more than 50 supporters on August 24 (Reuters: Student activists disappear in southern China after police raid.) Two staff of a labor rights group in Shenzhen were detained and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Many of the 70 arrested workers and allies remain detained or have their freedom restricted. Those released continue to be under house arrest and subject to surveillance. Students are threatened and disciplined by their universities. In protest, 5 students under house arrest for their support for workers have begun hunger strikes.
This is the most severe repression against workers and labor activists since a crackdown on labor rights organizations in 2015. As workers struggle in China, we stand together with the Chinese labor activists and demand that the Chinese government and the ACFTU:
Release all detained workers, reinstate their jobs and recognize their right to unionize;
Release all detained student supporters, and protect them from retaliation; and
Release all detained labor rights group staff.