Strike collapses at S China IBM

Updated: 2014-03-11 23:33


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SHENZHEN - The strike at an IBM plant in Shenzhen,in South China's Guangdong province, subsided on Tuesday, its ninth day, as some employees accepted a new compensation scheme.

Over a half of strikers signed severance agreements when IBM Systems Technology Company (ISTC) made some concessions and adjustments to the scheme, said Hou Hongbo, one of the strikers.

"I have heard that about seven or eight hundred workers have chosen to leave," said Hou, who has signed the agreement.

Workers at the plant started their protest on March 3 against a compensation package which they claimed was unsatisfactory and came without any negotiation with workers.

Chinese PC maker Lenovo announced in January a deal with IBM to buy the latter's low-end server business for $2.3 billion. The Shenzhen plant is included in the deal.

IBM on March 3 informed ISTC workers of its offer, that workers could remain at plant with remuneration unchanged, or resign voluntarily with a "reasonable and appropriate compensation package."

Workers gathered in the plant and asked for an official explanation of the compensation package before deciding to strike.

"ISTC offered quite a different compensation package to us compared to what they gave in January on another deal," said Wang Qiuping, an ISTC worker.

"It was unfair. Why should workers in the same company get different compensation?" she added.

Local authorities and trade unions offered help to both sides in negotiations. The company initially refused to negotiate with workers which led to stalemate, said Li Ying, director of the legal department at the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions.

"Lack of positive and effective communication caused the strike to last for nine days. The company was unwilling to hear workers's opinions and requirements," she said.

On March 9, the company came up with a new compensation scheme, which made no change for workers who decided to leave the company, but promised 36,000 yuan (about $6,000) in bonuses for those who remained.

The company fired 20 workers on Monday for "disobeying company orders, absence without leave, and gathering together during work times."

According to a statement by the company, contracts will be terminated immediately and the 20 will be asked to leave the company without compensation.

"As a whole, we failed as we gained no changes in severance compensation. However, we did get 36,000 yuan for those who chose to remain," said Hou.

In labor relations, the employer is in a position of strength and should take into account the effect of its decisions, said Li.

"The pursuit of rights and interests pushes forward the development of society. Chinese workers deserve respect and each individual has the right to benefit from social progress," said Li.

Labor relations in China have gradually changed in the past 30 years. The employment environment is now quite different for both foreign and domestic companies with the balance between labor and management sides more even.