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April 28, 2011

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Suicide threat over long hours

A SECURITY guard went to the roof of a six-story building in Xuhui District yesterday and threatened to jump in protest of long working hours.

The man, surnamed Sun, was first spotted about 10am sitting on the rooftop of a building in Puyuan Technology Park on Guilin Road by a worker, who took photographs and posted them online.

Xuhui District police sent officers to negotiate with Sun for nearly two hours. The man was eventually talked down by officers and was taken away.

When sitting on the rooftop, Sun attracted a crowd of nearby workers and he then threw leaflets to them.

Sun said in the leaflets that he had been working in the city for 18 days as a security guard for an online game company in the technology park. He said he worked more than 12 hours a day but never received a day off from his employer, Qingtian Security Co, conditions which were not included in his contract.

He claimed in the leaflet he had even been beaten up by company superiors over trivial matters.

Disenchanted, Sun wrote he would rather die to garner public attention over security guards' heavy workload and low wages.

According to other security guards at the company, long hours and low pay are routine. They added a "discriminatory rule" had existed for years. They said non-locals were paid 80 yuan (US$12) to 100 yuan per day, with no overtime allowances or medical insurance. Shanghai natives usually earn slightly more, but receive medical insurance.

"Almost every security guard in the city works 12 hours a day, and many work without days off," said one of the guards, who is from Shandong Province. He refused to give his name because he feared being fired.

"I appreciate that Sun told the truth to raise public attention, but he did it in an unwise and improper way," the guard told reporters.

He said many non-local workers are under heavy mental and physical pressure due to such long hours and low pay.

"Some leave, some continue working, and some go to extremes because of the pressure," the guard said.

Although some guards said the long hours have led to health problems, they don't ask for sick leave because they fear getting beaten up like Sun.

A Qingtian Security Co official said guards had "volunteered" to work overtime when they were supposed to take a day off after working two straight days.

Lawyer Wu Dong told Shanghai Daily that the company had violated the country's labor law if what Sun and the other security guards said proved to be the truth.


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