Friday, November 21, 2008

Empty promises?

Yesterday I met with one of my Chinese friends for language exchange (and in case someone wonders, it went straight downhill for me.. I don't know what it is with learning Chinese?! Some days I feel like a master: I understand others, I speak fluently... I even get the tones right?!?! But then some other days the words coming out of my mouth sounds like absolute gibberish... My pronunciation is terrible, the tones go wrong, and I mix up grammar, words and sentences... Yesterday was one of those days. WHORAW!!) and she told me about the international credit crunch hitting her company.

-Half of our staff (a total of 150, so 75) will lose their jobs, starting from next week.
-What?! But two weeks ago u told me that your boss had had a meeting with you all and promised you that no one was going to lose their jobs despite the situation?
-Well, he changed his mind. So things are quite sour now at work.
-I can imagine... what about you? Are you safe?
-Yes... but I sort of wish I wasn't. It's such a bad atmosphere at work at the moment.
-Yeah that is understandable.
-And my salary will be lower from next week onwards.
-What?
-Yeah, all the 75 staff that he keeps will have to work for less money he said.

My friend went on by telling me that the 75 staff that had been cut will only get one month's salary as compensation, although it should have been two.

-But that is against the new labour law? I tried.
-I know... but the boss said that when better times come everyone who wants to can get their jobs back.
-So no one is going to take him to court for breaking the law?
-No... everybody is hoping to get their jobs back after the CNY instead. He said that maybe in March some people can come back.
-But March is 3 months away? What are people going to live on?
-Dunno. Most of the staff are young people who haven't saved any of their salary. Although the boss said that if they come back to work in March, he will give them 200 kuai for each month they have been out of work. As a late compensation.

I continued by asking if the boss had reported his planned 50 percent employment cut to the government (as the new labour law requires) but my friend shook her head.

-No, he thinks that can be damaging to the company's reputation.
-And nobody is going to report it?
-No... nobody wants to get in trouble. Everybody wants to get their jobs back. And he promised they will.
-But two weeks ago he promised that no one would lose their jobs and now he is letting 75 people go?!
-Yeah.... well... I don't know. I suppose people are hoping for the tide to turn.

Oh dear. So am I. It is kind of sad to see that in a situation of crisis, when a law protecting the employee's rights is the most needed, it doesn't work.

5 comments:

MG said...

Emmm.. not a good news

Emil said...

Yeah, labor rights are non existant in China.

When I started my new job the employer did not pay me the two first months, and they never even told me in advance. So I was suddenly in deep shit when I had a lot of bills to pay, and my account was empty. It made my pretty angry, specially since it was the first months of work, and I allready used my saving for deposit and half year rental, and then they figure that if they dont pay me on time I will surely not notice or something. It was actually worse for the other employees which had not recived salary for four months. I was furious and asked how they could accept that, but they told me they did not want to loose their job. Because it is hard to find a new one they all said.

Eventually I got paid, but I made clear I will never accept anything like that again.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the workers are afraid that if they do report the company will be forced to shut down. They figure that a couple of months of no wage is better than being unemployed for longer time...:/

Anonymous said...

This is total exploitation of the Poor. The Commies should stop all these ill-practices and have all the Labor-Landlords shot including the Commies themselves. The real philosophy of Real Communism
( if it can be practised)
with their most famous Slogan is - "For the Benifits of the Workers"
You can even find this Famous Slogan in some OldMao Bags and caps.
Most of these Scum Leeches do not practice what they preach, and need to exorcised by some higher power to come!

For the Benifits of the Workers
Third Eye

sarah said...

Even without paying attention to the title of this post all that was going through my head was "empty promises, empty promises."

Sometimes I don't know whether to commend Chinese people in these situations for being able to roll with the punches... or shake them for not fighting for their rights. I think I'm leaning toward the latter, but being American that probably doesn't come as a surprise.