Striking ship workers in Shandong get police escort to government headquarters

About 600 workers at South Korean-owned ship builder Weihai Sanjin staged a Valentine’s Day protest through the streets of Weihai in Shandong demanding the payment of wage and pension arrears.

The workers marched 26 kilometres from the shipyard to the city government building in downtown Weihai, accompanied by large numbers of police officers, police cars and even a police helicopter.

However, no arrests were made and when the workers arrived at the gates of the municipal government, officials came out to meet them and promised to resolve the matter, stating that the company’s non-payment of two month’s wages and eight month’s pension contributions was illegal. The workers at Weihai Sanjin had previously gone on strike last November over the same issue.

The fact that the local authorities did not try to break up the workers’ demonstration but rather sought to resolve the cause of it shows that local governments in traditionally conservative areas of China, as well as those in the more progressive south-eastern coastal provinces, can respond positively to worker protests.

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