Date
20 September 2017
This, not that. Refusing to settle for an extra chicken leg in place of mooncakes, workers at a Taiwanese factory in mainland China had only one answer. Photos: Bloomberg/Internet
This, not that. Refusing to settle for an extra chicken leg in place of mooncakes, workers at a Taiwanese factory in mainland China had only one answer. Photos: Bloomberg/Internet

What chicken leg? Mooncake-deprived workers go on strike

An extra chicken leg at a Mid-Autumn Festival lunch isn’t a mooncake and workers at a Taiwanese factory in mainland China know the difference.

So, instead of settling for the added dish, they went on strike.

The back story is the same everywhere — and that’s everywhere — an anti-corruption campaign has taken a bite on gift-giving and other practices that smack of bribery.

But factory workers at Dongguan Masstop Liquid Crystal Display Co. consider mooncakes not a bribe but part of their lowly pay, even a birthright.

On Tuesday, they downed tools after being offered an extra chicken leg at lunch, according to the Financial Times.

And it wasn’t a large one at that, mind you. A regular mooncake would have sated their holiday appetite, upheld the dignity of their labor and fulfilled a tradition.

It was not only the absence of mooncake that had the workers riled up. They also received sharply reduced bonuses, although it was not clear if these were to do with the anti-corruption crackdown. 

“We are very unhappy,” Vivi Mo, a worker, told the Financial Times via Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

“We work so hard but they treat us so badly during the festival.”

She said some employees, some of whom are paid as little as 1,400 yuan (US$228) a month, remain on strike.

People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist party, appeared to take the side of the disgruntled workers.

In an online commentary, it said some companies were using the anti-corruption campaign as an excuse to cancel traditional holiday perks for those who consider them an essential salary bonus.

“This definitely is not what the central government meant originally,” the commentary said, adding: “The austerity ban is not aimed at normal benefits for employees.”

Benefit, bribe or bonus — make of it what you will but a mooncake is a mooncake.

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