China convicts hospital workers after high-profile labour protest
Published on Apr 15, 2014 4:05 PM
GUANGZHOU (REUTERS) - A Chinese court on Tuesday convicted 12 hospital security guards of "disturbing social order" after staging a labour protest last year, sentencing several to light jail terms in what was seen as a test case for labour rights in China.
The guards had been part of a group of more than 100 healthcare workers embroiled in a months-long dispute with the Guangzhou Chinese Medicine University Hospital over labour conditions and compensation.
Cut out of a deal that was eventually struck between the hospital and other workers, the guards on August 19 threatened to jump off the hospital building and were detained by police.
The ruling by the district court in the southern city of Guangzhou, convicting the guards of "gathering a crowd to disturb social order", comes against a backdrop of growing labour activism in China and was calibrated to send a message, said Duan Yi, a labour lawyer and counsel for one of the guards. "They are sending a signal to society at large which is that as workers protect their rights, if they are even slightly extreme they could receive criminal punishment," he said.
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