Nearly 3,000 workers at a Nokia factory in Dongguan, Guangdong, on Tuesday started a stream of around-the-clock strikes and sit-ins to protest the company's stringent policies that had already forced out hundreds.
The workers alleged the company's management team changed its Workers' Handbook, following news in Septmeber that Nokia will sell its global mobile phone business to Microsoft, in a move to force workers to resign so it can avoid paying compensations. The handbook stipulates workplace regulations and punishment in case of employment violations, according to Nokia employee Song Haibing.
"We were facing punitive regulations that got harsher by the day. If you are five minutes late to [clock in] on the worklog, there will be a warning issued. Two warnings mean you are out [of the company]. More than hundred workers have been forced to resign," said Song.
Grievances reached boiling point on November 19 when around 1,000 workers walked off and demanded Nokia abolish punitive changes in the Workers' Handbook and pay compensations before the deal between Nokia and Microsoft becomes effective January 1, 2014.
The situation escalated when riot police armed with shields and batons dispersed the workers who were eventually charged for "interfering the [company's] production". Eleven workers were arrested and five were still under administrative detention.
Some 3,000 workers currently remain on a peaceful protest at the factory, where their latest demands include the intervention and mediation of the local labor authority and Dongguan Federation of Trade Union, as well as a reinstatement of the company-level trade union.
A spokesperson for the workers, named Cheng, said the peaceful protests would continue to be held round-the-clock within the factory compound until Nokia responds.