Joint Statement

14 April 2008

Exploitative Labour Practice by Zhang Yin, the “Richest Woman” in China and Chairperson of Nine Dragons Paper, Is Unacceptable

Support the Legislation of the Chinese Labour Contract Law

Hong Kong Enterprises Must Take Up Their Social Responsibility

Serious labour exploitation was revealed in the Dongguan and Taicang factory of Nine Dragons Paper (2689), a Hong Kong listed company. Examples include: frequent work injuries and deadly industrial accidents (A worker died of work injury in the early morning of the first day of the Chinese New Year this year), fines on innocent workers relating to work injuries, frequent, heavy and unreasonable fines on workers and a long history of suspected violation of the labour laws and regulations in China. These practices ignored national laws and the rights and safety of the workers. No wonder workers at the Dongguan and Jiangsu factory of Nine Dragons Paper went on strike late last year. As the “richest woman” in China and a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Zhang Yin is putting the dignity of law at stake, destroying social harmony and a shame for all Hong Kong companies.

PHOTO: The press conference hold in HKBU on 12 Apr 2008.

Zhang Yin was recently quoted as saying, “From a development perspective, a country cannot become strong and rich if there is no income polarization”, “If the laws provide too much protection for workers, companies can hardly do business there”. We consider these statements completely irresponsible. It is widely acknowledged that the hardship and diligence of the peasant workers had contributed to the prosperity of today’s China, and that legal mean is considered a tool by the government to reconcile interests between employers and employees. However, trapped in the HuKou system and the cultural and economic difference between city and country, peasant workers in China not only fail to share the fruit of development but are tormented by long overdue wage payment, left-alone children in the country, work injuries and occupational diseases. We consider the implementation of the Labour Contract Law an appropriate act by the Central government to balance the one-sided labour-capital relations. What is needed is a full implementation of the Labour Contract Law, but not its withdrawal or postponement.

Besides Nine Dragons Paper, other Hong Kong enterprises were also found to have different level of exploitative labour practices. We believe that the Hong Kong government and its people have the responsibility to monitor the investment activities of Hong Kong listed companies outside its territory, in particular their compliance with local labour and environmental laws, so that Hong Kong companies would take a more active role in fulfilling their social responsibility.

We demand:

1)A complete and immediate disclosure of all work injury cases at Nine Dragons Paper. The company must also improve the health and safety conditions for the workers and to stop imposing unreasonable fines on workers;

2)Zhang Yin’s immediate resignation from her public position as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC);

3)Individual and institutional investors should use their influence by selling or refusing to buy the shares of Nine Dragons Paper until there is improvement in the working conditions for its workers;

4)Major investors of the Nine Dragons Paper, which include Fidelity, HSBC Asset Mgt, JP Morgan Investments, etc., and its major clients, including Nike, Coca-cola, Sony, etc., should take up their social responsibility by putting pressure on Nine Dragons Paper to improve the working conditions for its workers;

5)All Hong Kong enterprises operating in mainland China should comply with the Labour Law and Labour Contract Law to protect workers’ rights;

6)Instead of their personal interest, representatives of employers including different chambers of commerce and industrial federations in Hong Kong should also take into account the wider picture of social development in China when doing business there. They should play a more active role in requesting legal compliance and corporate social responsibility from their fellow members;

7)The Hong Kong government and its people should monitor the investment activities of Hong Kong listed companies outside its territory.


Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior

The Student Union of Hong Kong Baptist University

The Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong