Sanitation workers are out on strike again in China
Nearly one hundred sanitation workers went on strike in Liuzhou, Guangxi, on the morning of 26 March. The workers gathered in front of the municipal government building, chanting slogans and demanding an explanation from city officials for their continuing low pay levels.
After the workers staged a sit-in for a few hours, hundreds of police officers were dispatched to the scene. They surrounded the workers and threatened to arrest anyone who refused to leave. Videos posted online showed several workers being arrested with one detained in handcuffs. The strike and subsequent arrests received considerable attention online.
It is understood that most of the sanitation workers in Liuzhou were hired by local employment agencies on a temporary basis with few benefits. The majority were elderly, most in their fifties, and were willing to take the job only because they could not find any other suitable employment in the city.
Several hundred sanitation workers began a six-day strike in Shanghai’s Changning district on 26 March. The workers, employed by three separate labour agencies, were protesting a cut in working hours, salary, and the lack of any safety equipment.
One of the labour agencies issued a notice informing workers that they would work one hour less each day and that subsidies for morning and night work would be cut. When calculated on a monthly basis, the workers stood to lose 560 yuan or about 19 percent of their 3,000 yuan salary.
Workers from this agency protested in front of the district government on 26 March but when their demands were ignored, the strike spread to the other two agencies. Several workers were injured in the strike and four were arrested and subsequently released. Unconfirmed reports said the agencies eventually agreed to halve the salary cut to 280 yuan per month.