Published: 02/10/2013

Wu Guijun, a migrant worker employed for 9 years making furniture at the Diweixin Product Factory in Shenzhen (southern China), has been detained since May 23 and faces criminal prosecution for defending the rights of his co-workers.

Since his arrest Wu has been denied contact with his family. Workers at the Hong Kong-owned factory sought negotiations earlier this year in response to concerns about production cutbacks and apparent preparations for relocation to another site in the Chinese interior. Seven workers were elected to represent them, including Wu, but the employer refused to disclose any information and rejected negotiations. In response, the workers downed tools on May 7 and petitioned the local government to intervene.  On May 23, 300 workers were besieged by the police while marching to the City Government; more than 20 workers were arrested and detained, including Wu Guijun. All were eventually released except for Wu. According to his lawyer, Wu now faces criminal prosecution for “assembling a crowd to disturb social order”.

Wu’s case is hardly unique (see China: worker rights and the mirage of ‘reform’, which includes a list of workers and labour rights activists currently serving sentences of 2 years to life for their defense of working class interests.

On October 1, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) held a solidarity rally at the Liaison Office of the Central People Government office in Hong Kong. HKCTU president Cheng Ching-fat declared October 1 “a National Day of Anger” because Chinese workers are still denied their basic human rights to organize, to negotiate and to strike. The union called for the release of Wu Guijun and all Chinese workers criminalized for their defense of workers’ interests and for the reform of Chinese law to guarantee these fundamental rights.