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Workers protest over job losses before new law
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About 50 employees in Shanghai staged a six-hour rooftop protest at a factory on Saturday to complain about their dismissal before the new Labor Contract Law comes into effect.

They worked for Transpo Electronics (Shanghai) Co Ltd, a US-invested company in Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone that has more than 300 employees.

The protesters said the company told them in the afternoon of November 30 that they would not need to work next day. The company said it would not sign next year's labor contracts after their current contracts expire on December 31, but they would be paid wages for December.

A total of 53 long-serving workers were dismissed, most of whom had been with the company for more than five years. Some had worked for 11 years.

Labor rights lawyers told them that according to the Labor Contract Law which takes effect on January 1 next year, an open-term contract should be signed after people work for an employer for 10 consecutive years.

The employees complained that Transpo was avoiding signing open-term contracts by dismissing them.

They went to meet the manager on Saturday, but when he failed to see them they occupied the top of the factory to seek compensation.

The manager surnamed Mei arrived about 4pm, but denied the move was aimed at circumventing the new law. He said it was legal to terminate a contract after it expires.

The protesters halted their demonstration after Mei agreed to pay some compensation and promised to negotiate details today.

The Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau said it would publicize the new law and supervise companies to avoid similar cases.

Earlier, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in Guangdong Province asked staff who had worked for eight consecutive years for "voluntary resignations." This attracted criticism ahead of the new laws.

The company later agreed to suspend its controversial "voluntary resignation" scheme after talks with trade unions, which called on the company to solicit workers' opinions and respect their rights.

The Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau has begun a series of lectures this month to promote the new laws, and produced pamphlets explaining the regulations.

(Shanghai Daily, December 10, 2007)

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