Huang Yongqi could not hold back her tears when Jinjiang District Court found in favour of her and her six female colleagues from Chengdu Air Compressor Plant in the first gender discrimination case of its kind in China.
"We have fought for nearly half a year for equal rights between men and women, which is written in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China," the 53-year-old told China Daily.
The case began when Huang and her six colleagues received a written notice in December last year from administrators in charge of the liquidation of Chengdu Air Compressor Plant. This required them to leave the plant as pensioners.
But aged between 52 and 54, the seven employees had not reached the official retirement age of 55 for women. In line with relevant government regulations, female employees younger than 55 working at bankrupt enterprises have two choices.
"First, they can retire and enjoy the treatment other retired people receive. Second, they should be given a certain amount of money to find a new job," Huang said.
But the plant did not give them the right to choose, simply asking them to retire without their consent.
To their great disappointment, Huang and her six women colleagues found that the plant's male employees below retirement age had been offered the two choices.
The women asked for arbitration from the Chengdu Municipal Labour Dispute Arbitration Committee, based in Chengdu, capital city of southwest China's Sichuan Province.
They asked the committee to veto the plant's notice, but their request was rejected.
In March this year, they took the Constitution of the People's Republic of China with them to Jinjiang District Court, filing a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination.
The court, which started hearing the case in May, ruled on Thursday that the organization handling the plant's liquidation should take back the notice and offer the seven women employees the two options.
"The respondent, the plant's liquidation administrators, was not present when the court pronounced its judgment," said Zhang Jing, chief of the court's research office.
The court will send the judgment to the respondent. If it does not appeal, the judgment will take effect 15 days afterwards.
(China Daily June 20, 2005)