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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Chinese Brewery Worker Sentenced to 2.5 Years for Defending Pensions, Medical Insurance

Posted to the IUF website 01-Aug-2007

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The IUF has written Chinese president Hu Jintao to demand the immediate release of imprisoned brewery worker Zhou Yuanwu. Zhou was sentenced in May to 2.5 years' imprisonment for defending workers at the state-owned Jinchu Brewery who were laid off without compensation or benefits when the factory closed in February 2002. Following the closure, the machines and other equipment were sold off quickly, below market price, but the workers received nothing.

Zhou assisted the workers in petitioning the authorities at local, provincial and central level for their pension and medical insurance. On 18 August 2006, Zhou was asked to go to Jingzhou District Police Station without being served a subpoena. When he refused, he was reportedly severely beaten and detained. He was then charged with "obstructing public officers in the execution of their duties", convicted and sentenced on May 15.

As a result of his efforts, workers who had reached retirement age were able to receive their pensions, but the rest of the workforce are still waiting for the benefits to which they are legally entitled.

More information on Chinese worker rights activists detained for their activities is available on the website of China Labour Bulletin.