Former Bank Employees Protest Forced Buyouts in Beijing

October 29, 2009 5:24 am Last Updated: October 29, 2009 5:31 am

Bank employees protest in Beijing's Financial District (eyewitness photo)
Bank employees protest in Beijing's Financial District (eyewitness photo)
Between 500 to 1,000 former bank employees who lost their jobs after forced bank buyouts, protested in front of the Beijing International Conference Center in Beijing’s Financial Street District on Oct. 26. A large police force was dispatched to the scene to disperse and arrest the protesters.

The protesters were former employees from the ‘big four’ flagship banks in China: the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, People’s Construction Bank of China, and Bank of China, according to an eyewitness, who identified himself as Yang.

"The police set up cordons. About a dozen police cars were dispatched to the scene. The police took some people away by force and put them in buses. Six buses were loaded with people. It’s probably Majialou (a notorious detention center in Beijing) that they were taken to,” Yang said.

"The protesters just stated that their banks had terminated their jobs in a systematic and illegal way. Their demands are for human rights and employment rights,” said another eyewitness, Deng.

Police took some protesters away on a bus. (eyewitness photo)
Police took some protesters away on a bus. (eyewitness photo)

Some protesters received only a few thousand yuan in the buyout package, according to Zhang Jiaping, a representative of a non-government organization calling itself Rights Movement. “Their jobs were terminated like that. How they are going to survive is the big problem.”

Banks terminating employees' jobs because of forced buyouts has a lot to do with China’s housing market bubble and banks loosening loan requirements, according to Zhang.

The same kind of protest, including a gathering with as many as 10,000 participants, also took place in Beijing in February and March. The protesters hoped the authorities could help solve their financial dilemma after their banks illegally terminated their contracts. However, so far the related government offices have not responded, but simply shuffled and evaded thee requests, according to an article published by Chinese Human Rights Defenders on Oct. 27.

Forced buyouts, “buying out workers' seniority” as Chinese would put it, is a common dismissal tactic used by China’s state owned enterprises. It refers to the termination of an employment contract by offering an employee severance pay based on one’s length of service. Often, however, the compensation is inadequate.

Lu Meng contributed to this story.

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