Thousands at HP subsidiary in China strike against board chairman nomination

The world's second-largest network device maker is striking against its parent company HP, demanding more autonomy.

More than 3,000 employees at the world's second-largest network device maker H3C Technologies Co Limited have continued their strike into its third week against parent company Hewlett-Packard's nomination of a new chairman. The striking employees are demanding the reinstatement of the fired leader of its workers' representative, and their right to have involvement in the company's management and decision-making process.

HP plans to pilot its senior manager Mao Yunan inside H3C, repack its profitable network business with HP's struggling server sector, and sell part of H3C to a new owner while maintaining its status as a major shareholder, according to a report from China Economic Daily, published on February 2.

But workers at the Hangzhou-based company fear that Mao, who has been known for capital investment rather than business management, will cleanse old managers and employees within the marketing and sales departments.

Led by Wang Wei, director of the marketing department and elected workers' representative, more than 4,400 people have signed the solidarity letter, and more than 3,000 joined the strike starting from January 19, two days after HP announced Mao's nomination, as reported by Jiemian.com last month.

The workers' demands include: Mao holding no position within H3C; maintaining the company's autonomy and current management staff; convening a staff conference promptly and initiating negotiation between the company and its workers; assuring workers' universal rights to company shares; and keeping the right to strike until a written agreement is reached.

HP dismissed Wang on January 23, but the workers voted for another 38 representatives from different departments to bargain on their behalf with HP and demand Wang's reinstatement.

While attributing H3C's business success to solidarity and autonomy over the past 12 years, an employee under the pseudonym of Li Fei told the Weekly that this time will be no different.

"Our representatives will not accept Wang being fired; we have already filed a lawsuit at local authorities. Workers' representatives cannot be removed like this," Li said.

H3C is a leading network device provider -- although it employs less than 1.5 percent of HP's total workforce, it contributed almost 12 percent of the company's global net earning in 2013.

According to an email sent to the Weekly, after working with the current president and CEO Wu Jingchuan, HP's chief executive officer Meg Whitman reassigned Wu as deputy board chair for H3C and her individual China and global network strategy consultant. The email didn't say who will become chairperson.