Chinese factory workers riot

overturned police car in Dongguan.
overturned police car in Dongguan.

More unrest in China following further layoffs in the industrial heartland.

Submitted by Django on November 26, 2008

Over 500 rioted yesterday at a toy factory in Dongguan, on the Pearl River Delta in southern China, over pitiful severance payments handed out to 596 workers laid off this month.

According to a spokesman from the propaganda office, the dispute centered around the level of compensation paid to a group of 80 migrant workers at the factory, who mobilised fellow migrant workers and unemployed labourers into a large crowd which stormed the factory. The local government claim over 2000 took part in the protest, with around 500 involved in the rioting. A police car was overturned and police motorbikes were damaged as the factory gates were forced open, and the crowd gained access to company offices where computers and other equipment were destroyed. The factory is owned by the Hong Kong based Kader Holdings Company Ltd.

Dongguan, a major industrial city, has been badly affected by the global economic crisis. Many of the 7000 companies which have either collapsed or relocated out of China employed workers there. 2.8 million job losses have been forecast for the Pearl River Delta as part of government and industry estimates. At least 67,000 factories have closed in China this year.

The rise in layoffs and wage cuts has seen a corresponding rise in strikes, protests and riots by workers attempting to defend themselves. In October, 7000 workers employed by the Smart Union factory in Dongguan - who manufacture toys for Mattel, Disney and Hasbro - struck and occupied the factory and surrounding roads after the non-payment of three months wages. The government was forced to step in and guarantee the workers the money in the face of the campaign. A two day riot against evictions in Northwest China was put down recently using tear gas, as protesters resisting their eviction as part of a govenment land grab attacked police with axes, chains and, bizarrely, flowerpots.

The rising level of working class combativity in China as its export-led economy is badly hit by the global crisis has left Communist Party officials feeling very uneasy indeed.