A Review of the Procedures and Services of Social Security Repayment in Guangdong Province —- Summary of 15 Workers’ Demands for Pension Recovery

The full report (in Chinese only) can be downloaded here: 檢視廣東省社保補繳程序及服務-15 個工友追討個案綜述


Executive Summary

In Guangdong Province, migrant workers are often deprived of their pension insurance, and employers illegally owing them pension contributions have been rampant. In recent years, many workers have demanded the recovering of social security payments. This becomes a trend in workers’ rights protection and has gradually captured our attention.


From the end of 2019 to mid-2020, we conducted in-depth interviews with more than ten workers who are or were in the process of recovering pension insurance in Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen and Huizhou. In this report, we focus on these four aspects: 1. workers’ understanding of the pension system and their own rights; 2. actions taken to recover social security contributions; 3. different experiences that male and female workers may encounter; 4. respondents’ retirement plans and the influence of pension insurance to them. The following are the four main challenges that we have found regarding the social security payment:


Continue reading “A Review of the Procedures and Services of Social Security Repayment in Guangdong Province —- Summary of 15 Workers’ Demands for Pension Recovery”

An Exploratory Research on Work Resumption in Guangdong Province during the Outbreak of COVID-19


In January 2020, an unprecedented outbreak of novel coronavirus, later named COVID-19, took place in Hubei Province of China. Since the virus outbreak occurred during the Lunar New Year, the delay of work resumption cast uncertainties on the livelihoods of migrant workers who returned to their hometowns for holidays.


Could the government policies protect workers’ rights during this extraordinary time? Are workers aware of their rights entitled by law? Based on these questions, we conducted a series of interviews with frontline workers to find out the situations they are facing during the outbreak of COVID-19.


The research methods include mainly semi-structured telephone and online interviews. 41 workers were interviewed, tracked and followed up from the period of 2 February to 3 March 2020. 38 interviews were completed eventually. Most of the interviewees are currently working or have worked in Guangdong Province. The research purpose is to understand the whereabouts of workers, their lives, and the situations of work resumption of the companies they work for.


We designed two sets of interview questions to examine the situations of workers who have resumed work and those who have not resumed work. We hope to understand the factors restricting workers from returning to their factories to work, the arrangements by their employers on the delay of work resumption after holidays, and the effectiveness of government policies in protecting workers during this period of time. And, for workers who have resumed work, we hope to understand the quarantine arrangements before they get back to their workplace, the protective measures taken by the factories and sanitary condition in the shop floor, and the workload adjustment in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Continue reading “An Exploratory Research on Work Resumption in Guangdong Province during the Outbreak of COVID-19”

WE is Recruiting a Full-time Research Coordinator

Organisation: Worker Empowerment


Position: Research Coordinator (Full-time)


Job responsibilities:

  1. Take lead in the development of research on labour rights and policies
  2. Oversee funding projects related to research work
  3. Oversee publications and publicity of research work
  4. Develop and supervise the research team



  1. University graduate with a degree in social science
  2. At least three years of solid experience in research, in NGO setting preferred
  3. Experience in small team management with good problem solving skills
  4. Knowledge in China labour rights issues is desirable
  5. Good written and verbal communication skills in Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin) and English
  6. Proficiency in MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Chinese Word processing
  7. Flexible in working hours and willing to work overtime when required


Closing Date: 30 March 2020


Description of organisation: Worker Empowerment is a non-profit labour organisation based in Hong Kong SAR. It commits to promote for the protection of the rights of workers in China.


Interested parties please send your application with full resumé indicating date of availability and expected salary to email: workerempowerment@gmail.com


(Chinese translation of the recruitment advertisement are as follows / 中文版如下)







  1.  帶領中國勞工權益及政策的研究工作
  2. 負責研究項目的落實推行
  3. 負責研究的出版和推廣工作
  4. 建立及發展研究工作團隊



  1. 大學學歷,社會科學相關學系畢業
  2. 最少三年從事社會科學研究經驗,曾在非政府組織從事研究工作為佳
  3. 有管理小团隊經驗,擅長解決問題
  4. 對中國勞工問題有認識為佳
  5. 優秀中英文寫作和會話能力
  6. 能使用 MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) 及中文打字
  7. 彈性工作時間,特定要求下能加班工作







2 of WE’s publications from 2018 translated and published online

2 of Worker Empowerment’s publications from 2018, the Report on Workers’ Wages and Living Expenses in 4 Types of Regions in Guangdong and the Research Reports on Labour Conditions of Service Sector Workers in China are now translated and published in English.

Report on Workers’ Wages and Living Expenses in 4 Types of Regions in Guangdong had compiled the prices of daily necessities, wage levels, overtime hours and social insurance of 4 regions with different minimum wage levels, in order to provide a brief picture on the income/expenditure composition of ordinary workers’ families. This is used to further examine the extent in which workers’ lives were helped by the minimum wage level.

The Research Reports on Labour Conditions of Service Sector Workers in China includes a general report portraying the general trend and common mistreatment, a report on hotel workers and a report on sanitation workers in Guangzhou. Amidst the industrial shift the Guangdong area, this set of reports is intended to provide some primary observations after questionnaires and interviews with service sector workers.

You can now find the two publications online through the two links below:

Report on Workers’ Wages and Living Expenses in 4 Types of Regions in Guangdong: https://issuu.com/workerempowerment/docs/_________1

Research Reports on Labour Conditions of Service Sector Workers in China: https://issuu.com/workerempowerment/docs/__________2


Statement – 1 year since the arrest of Fu Changguo

Fu Changguo, staff member of the Dagongzhe Workers Centre in Shenzhen and partner of Worker Empowerment, has been summoned by the Pingshan District Public Security Sub-Bureau on 10 August 2018 in connection with the protest by the Jaisic workers and has been held incommunicado since then. Today marks a full year of detention of Fu Changguo, during which he was held under multiple forms of custody. Worker Empowerment expresses deep sympathy towards his family. At the same time Worker Empowerment has been closely concerned with the development of circumstances. Within this year, Fu Changguo and his family have been put through the following unreasonable or even illegal treatments by the authorities: Continue reading “Statement – 1 year since the arrest of Fu Changguo”

Inadequate Increment: A Review of Minimum Wage Level in Guangdong 2018

Released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (hereafter MHRSS) of the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) in 2003, the Minimum Wage Regulation requires labour security administrative departments of all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to review and adjust minimum wage levels at least once every two years. The Regulation has since become the backbone in protecting the livelihoods of the vast labour population in China. In Guangdong, cities are categorized into four ‘wage districts’ based on their level of economic development. Each of the four wage districts adopts different minimum wage levels. While the minimum wage level of Type A districts is the highest, the minimum wage level of Type D districts is the lowest in the province[1]. The Human Resources and Social Security Department of Guangdong Province (hereafter GDHRSS) is responsible for regularly adjusting the four different minimum wage levels. But Shenzhen, despite being a city in Guangdong, independently set its own minimum wage level until the middle of 2018, when the city was included in the minimum wage system of Guangdong. Shenzhen, like Guangzhou, is categorized as a Type A city, but Shenzhen still had its own minimum wage level by August 2018.


In 2018, the minimum wage level of all regions in Guangdong was adjusted for the first time after since 2015.  Shenzhen also experienced its first raise in the minimum wage under the principle of biennial adjustment. We have been closely following the issue of minimum wage in Guangdong. Through long-term investigation and research, we try to find out whether the wage levels of workers in Guangdong can catch up with the level of economic developments in the province. We have documented the changes in minimum wage levels in different cities in Guangdong province, and in this paper, we will examine whether the Minimum Wage Regulation remains effective in protecting the livelihood of grassroots workers.

Continue reading “Inadequate Increment: A Review of Minimum Wage Level in Guangdong 2018”

Urgent appeal: Let Fu Changguo go home for his mothers’ funeral

Fu Changguo, the staff member of Shenzhen Dagongzhe Workers Centre, has been detained by the police because of the Jasic incident since August 2018. His mother, Ms. Huang Youyue, unfortunately passed away on 10 th January, 2019, without being able to see her son for one last time. Fu is the only son in the family. His family requests the Shenzhen Police Bureau to release Fu so that he can fulfil his filial duty to organize and attend his mother’s funeral.


According to our sources, Huang’s health deteriorated in mid December 2018. The family members of Fu thus petitioned the Pingshan Police Department multiple times requesting them to release Fu on bail so that he could spend time with his dying mother. However, the Police Department declined their request on the ground that “Fu might destroy or fabricate the evidences, influence the testimonies of the witnesses or collude with them; and that releasing (Fu) on bail cannot forestall social dangers”


As we have emphasized, while working in Dagongzhe Fu was a law-abiding citizen and had not involved in organizing any workers or inciting illegal activities. We mourn the death of Fu’s mother; may her soul rest in peace. We sincerely hope that the Shenzhen Police understands the situation and allows Fu to go home for his mother’s funeral.



Dagongzhe Centre

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions


Asia Monitor Resource Centre

Labour Education and Service Network

Labour Action China

Joint Letter: Labour Right violations undertaken by Global Brands Group’s sourcing partner in El Salvador

Photo credit: Worker Rights Consortium

Alongside with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and Global Monitor, WE had issued a joint letter to the Hong Kong-based international apparel giant, Global Brands Group (GBG), regarding the shameless act of sudden closure of one of its main supplier factories in El Salvador, resulting in the arrears of  wages, severance and benefits of 824 garment workers.

Hundreds of workers and their families, caught off guard by the sudden closure, are financially precarious due to the irresponsible acts of GBG’s supplier. We demand the Global Brands Group to take up the responsibilities and provide workers with their legally-owed amount. Read the full letter below:

Continue reading “Joint Letter: Labour Right violations undertaken by Global Brands Group’s sourcing partner in El Salvador”

Joint Statement: Release Fu Changguo Now!

In a Xinhua news report published on 25th August, Shenzhen Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre (DGZ) is accused of actively involving in the JASIC protest with financial support from abroad. Huang Qingnan, the legal person of DGZ, was released on bail on 5th September and sent back to his hometown in Fujian. However, it has been over 30 days since Fu Changguo, another staff member of DGZ, was detained since 11th August.


Huang Qingnan was in Fujian the whole time when the JASIC incident developed. He was taken to Shenzhen and put under detention on 13th August, although released on bail 23 days later. There is neither proof of Huang’s participation in the JASIC incident nor violation of law. We urge the Shenzhen Police to clear his charge and close the case in due course.


Prior to being held on 10th August, Fu Changguo had already been summoned by the police for four times (on 25th July, 26th July, 4th August and 7th August respectively). He was questioned about the JASIC incident in detail, and was asked not to involve in supporting JASIC workers. Since the breakout of the workers’ protest, what Fu has done is merely circulating news about the protest and links to fundraising sites in a Wechat group of workers, as well as visiting the protest scene once as an observer.


As the labour law consultant of the worker centre, Fu went to the JASIC factory to learn more about the incident, in which workers’ rights are intruded, simply because of its relevance to his job duties. He had never involved in organizing workers nor their supporters. Circulating news in a Wechat group, as accused by the Xinhua news report, is by no means comparable to spreading rumours online and picking trouble, thus far from “radicalising the incident”. What Fu has been forwarding since July are all news and links to fundraising sites released by supporters of JASIC workers, which are real and forwarded by many others.


We urge the Pingshan branch of the Shenzhen Police to respect Fu’s legal rights during detention, as he has been denied access to lawyers until now. It is also demanded that Fu be released and his case closed immediately, after finding out his actions during the JASIC incident indeed involves no crime nor harm to the society. According to the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, the public security organ should submit a request for examination and approval to the People’s Procuratorate within 30 days of detention only with a valid charge on an individual. We urge the Procuratorate to take facts and evidence into thorough consideration, and then disapprove the request for arrest.


Worker Empowerment and the Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre are in long-term partnership with frequent collaborations. Established in 2000, DGZ operates under a business license, registered as Dagongzhe Shangdian (Migrant Workers’ Shop), but has been constantly attempting to register as either a social organization or a private non-enterprise unit. DGZ has been serving the community for over 10 years, running a free legal consultation telephone hotline, as well as face-to-face consultation, which benefit around 500 workers per year. DGZ actively promotes legal knowledge for workers by outreach programmes and labour law workshops in industrial zones, equipping workers with legal knowledge in case of illegal exploitation by employers. It also provides activities such as Labour Day commemorative activities, movie screenings and hiking trips.


Like thousands of other non-profit organizations in China, the operation of DGZ is constantly under threat. In 2007, thugs hired by factory owners deliberately damaged facilities of DGZ, as well as violently assaulted Huang Qingnan, a staff member at that time, leading to his permanent disabilities. Over the years, DGZ has also been evicted by landlords and compelled to relocate for numerous times. In face of the difficulties, DGZ persists in serving migrant workers in Shenzhen with good intentions, driven by no conspiracy of disrupting social order. We urge the Shenzhen authorities to support DGZ and other organizations of similar sort instead of suppressing them. 


Shenzhen Dagongzhe Workers’ Centre

Worker Empowerment