Large groups of Chinese workers staged massive protests on Jan. 7 at a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Chongqing, a megacity in the southwestern part of China. The protests started after Zybio, Inc., a COVID-19 test kits manufacturer, laid off workers in their thousands.
The unrest started when Zybio abruptly laid off about 8,000 employees, as revealed by workers interviewed by The Epoch Times, Chinese edition. Although still two weeks away, the employees were informed that they could leave for the Chinese New Year, marking the end of their employment.
Chongqing has a population of over 30 million. Within the last three years, the town has dealt with lockdowns, massive protests, and the recent COVID-19 surge in the country. The layoffs, which came just before the Chinese New Year, ended the patience of the town’s aggrieved population.”
Online footage showed angry workers destroying boxes of COVID-19 test kits, breaking into the company’s offices, and police-civilian clashes. Protesters pelted the police with cones, plastic boxes, and water bottles, causing the police to flee the scene.
The projected scenarios all but materialized as China suddenly announced the end of the three-year measures in early December, abandoning the massive compulsory PCR testing. This announcement affected the pharmaceutical company causing the management to respond with layoffs.
An anonymous Zybio worker confirmed that the company’s sudden layoffs sparked the protests. The source, who Zybio employed in June, believed that the company had large orders last year and employed about 6,000 to 7,000 workers.
“The company told us to leave, but it didn’t tell us when to come back and if it would pay us our wages,” the source revealed.
According to the worker, in addition to higher wages, the company had promised a 3,000 yuan (about $438) bonus to workers who pledged to work before and after the Chinese New Year.