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Shenzhen workers protest at beatings

South China Morning Press  |  April 9, 2008  |  Share

"Shenzhen workers protest at beatings" South China Morning Press.

By Chow Chung-yan in Shenzhen

Mass walkout after three are assaulted by Italian supervisors during pay row.

More than 3,000 Shenzhen workers employed by sofa maker DeCoro took to the streets yesterday morning after three colleagues were badly beaten by their Italian supervisors during a pay dispute.

The angry workers marched from the factory in Pingshan to a highway to protest. They shouted 'Stop violence, restore justice and protect our human rights' and were dispersed by riot police armed with shields and clubs about 11am.

Three workers employed by DeCoro Industrial - one o f the world's largest sofa makers - were beaten by their Italian supervisors on October 31 during an argument over wages, workers said. The three were still being treated in hospital last night.

One worker, Liang Tian, said the company had tried to force them to accept a 20 per cent pay cut. When they refused, the management sacked about 10 of their leaders without compensation.

Mr Liang said he and two other colleagues had tried to reason with the Italians, but the supervisors lost patience and punched them.

'I was the first to be beaten. He pulled me up and punched me hard in my stomach. I was knocked out for a few seconds. He stamped on my face while I was lying on the ground. It was really humiliating,' Mr Liang said last night.

Another worker, Li Fangwei, said it was not the first time they had been beaten. 'They regularly beat Chinese workers. They are like wolves. They are racists and treat us like slaves,' he said. Hundreds o f workers rushed to their colleagues' aid after hearing the news of their beating. The angry crowd demanded an apology from management and for the Italian supervisors to be punished.

DeCoro president Luca Ricci wrote a letter of apology to the three workers yesterday and called for a return to work. But many workers remained angry. They said the company was making good profits, but still wanted to cut their pay. About 80 workers who refused to accept the pay cut were dismissed in September. They are now pursuing legal action. DeCoro management could not be reached for comment last night.

The workers said they planned to hold another protest today. 'We reported the case to police when they first beat us. But the police did nothing,' one said. 'We don't trust the authoritiesanymore. We will protect ourselves.'

DeCoro, fully owned by an Italian company, was established in Shenzhen in 1997 with registered capital o f US$2.5 million. Its total revenue this year has been estimated at US$240 million. About 75 per cent of its products are sold in the US.

Original Report

Article of Italian sofa maker in Shenzhen

Article of Chinese Sofa Factory Workers Go on Strike


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