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.
-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.