“Aristocratisation alongside enslavement”: Railway restructuring & workers’ resistance in China since the 1980s

“Aristocratisation alongside enslavement”: Railway restructuring & workers’ resistance in China since the 1980s
Image from China5e.com.

Translation by Wv of《中国铁路工人的状况和斗争》(The conditions and struggles of China’s railway workers), written by Mayday (伍壹) for the Railroad Workers Bulletin (铁路工人通讯) in early 2016. Scroll down for the original Chinese version. Also see our translations of other selections from the BulletinPrologue,” “Tales of Rights Defense,” “Farewell, Director!“ “Guiyang’s Casualized Train Attendants Fight Back,” “Why Workers Are Dissatisfied,” “Song of the Locomotive Engineer” and “Not Your Daddy’s Railroad.” 

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Recent expansion of China’s railway system

Over the past thirty years, China’s road traffic and airfreight has developed rapidly. The sales volume of motor vehicles in this past decade has been even more startling. China has not followed the path of the United States, however, as the government eventually chose to slow down reforms and began supporting large-scale development of the railway system. Its efforts were quite successful, achieving electrification and an operating distance upwards of 110,000 kilometers, a figure rivaled only by the United States. China also owns the world’s largest high-speed rail lines and network, which it is aggressively promoting to other countries. After the sudden onset of the 2008 economic crisis, railway infrastructure has been one of the main targets of China’s four trillion yuan of state investment (including two trillion yuan in the 11th Five-Year Plan), continuing to the present day. Compared to the United States, rail transport features more prominently in China’s economic development and the everyday lives of its people. Due to China’s large population of 1.3 billion, however, the amount of railway per capita is very low. Railway development has increased the job security of [railway] workers, despite an overall decline in wages.

Following other state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the railway system has moved towards marketisation and privatisation since the 1980s. In 2012, the Ministry of Railways was dissolved and the China Railway Corporation was established in preparation for marketisation. Starting in the 1980s, the Ministry put forward a variety of specific proposals based on its study of the railway reform models adopted by various countries, including “big contracting” (complete transformation into [a set of state-owned and/or private] enterprises, with 5% of operating revenue paid to the government annually, each bureau managed autonomously), and “the separation of train operation from railway infrastructure” (网运分离). The government, on the other hand, adopted a more cautious attitude. In the 1980s, the pace of railway development constantly lagged behind other sectors and failed to keep up with population explosion, causing severe capacity shortage, deterioration, and overloading. More than ten major accidents resulted. The government also considered the railway’s impact on the national economy and national security, as the previous contractual system and reforms – such as each [railway] bureau’s establishment of passenger train operating companies – created serious internal conflicts of interest and significant financial loss. Complete marketisation would also weaken the government’s ability to regulate and manage, with sectional interests harming the collective interests of capital accumulation. The most obvious example is the transportation of passengers during the annual Spring Festival (Lunar New Year), where operators must defer a portion of freight traffic and carry passengers on a non-profit or low-profit basis. Fares that have been kept unchanged for twenty years would inevitably rise after privatisation or marketisation.

 

Railway reforms and workforce [re]composition

Although the [bulk of China’s] railway system remains state-owned (supplemented by local railways and a small number of private railways) and did not become completely marketised, changes to its organisational structure, management and employment regime have been similar to those in other SOEs, and are thus essentially capitalistic. The success of the system’s large-scale development brought with it the “aristocratisation of [management] cadres alongside the enslavement of workers” that is typical of the establishment of [China’s] modern enterprise system. Frontline workers face ever-increasing workloads disproportional to received benefits. The number of contract, temporary and subcontracted workers has also increased.

The enterprises, institutions and personnel that China Railway covers are quite large and complex. The restructuring known as “separation between main and supplementary [institutions, enterprises and personnel]” (主辅分离), which began in the late 1990s, transferred the management of railway materials, communications, design and construction to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and its subsidiaries. (For example, construction is carried out by the China Railway Engineering Corporation and the China Railway Construction Corporation, while locomotive manufacturing is undertaken by China South Railway and China CNR Corporation. These are all independent, listed companies.) Labour welfare organisations and service facilities, such as schools and hospitals, were carved out and separated from the core business. The Railway Transportation Court and the Railway Transport Procuratorate, founded in 1982, had their jurisdiction moved to local civilian courts. Currently, railway employees number at 2.2 million (versus 3.2 million in the mid-1980s), or more than 10 million if family members are included.

Many employees, often family members of former railway workers, were assigned to “collective” enterprises or “diversified” companies owned by the railway since the 1980s. Many do the same work as formal employees, but with lower pay and poor job security. Under the current plan, reform of the large collective railway enterprises will be completed next year [2017]. A large number of workers are facing layoffs or xiagang [usually-permanent on-leave status with a small stipend].

From 25 to 27 January 2016, more than 2,000 Harbin Railway Bureau collective enterprise workers rallied and raised banners in front of the bureau, protesting 8 years of unpaid pension contributions, which meant that they had each received a over a thousand yuan less than other workers each month. They also demanded full payment of wage and subsidy arrears. But when they rallied again on 1 February, the group was tightly controlled and suppressed. Apart from this, collective workers from the Shanghai and Wuhan Railway Bureaus have also waged resistance for many years.

As for the employment regime, since the 1980s, many children of employees and workers recruited from the labour market [as opposed to those with personal connections] are increasingly employed as contract workers with basically no hope of becoming regular staff. In 2008, the Labour Contract Law was introduced. Dispatch [i.e. temp agency] labour became prevalent as many contract workers were turned into dispatch workers. After Labour Contract Law amendments at the end of 2012 and the Dispatch Interim Provisions in 2014 were introduced, many dispatch workers were cleared out or became subcontracted workers with lowered job security. On 9 December 2015, 40 dispatch workers employed in passenger dining cars visited the China Railway Corporation headquarters in Beijing to petition for equal pay for equal work.

During the reforms of the 1980s, the Ministry of Railways, like other SOEs, actively subcontracted work to generate more revenue. But because of government-imposed fare limits, employee incomes shrank and the problem of petty corruption (路风不正) became widespread. Railway staff privately let in passengers, which increased the rate of accidents. Upper management seized this as an opportunity to push for aggressive restructuring, ultimately turning employees into slaves. From 1996 onward, the Ministry of Railways encouraged bureaus to increase penalties, holding a portion of wages (between a few hundreds to a few thousands) as ransom and enacting increasingly baroque regulations used to assess and deduct the pay of errant workers.

The management of every bureau and section took this up with great enthusiasm. Firstly, this offered a means to control, divide and repress employees, as well as to blame frontline workers for [problems related to] safety. Secondly, they could raise their own bonuses by punishing workers with wage deductions.

Over the past few years, railway bureaus respectively set up surveillance cameras in driver cabins to monitor drivers and required drivers to use voice recorder pens, provoking great antipathy. Although major safety accidents were reduced, frontline workers shouldered great stress and even felt heavily tormented, despite the fact that punitive deductions did not necessarily constitute a great portion of their pay.

The 2005 merger reform of railway bureaus and station departments brought the total number of station sections down from 1,491 to 627. A large number of workers were xiagang [put on permanent leave status], and many remaining were forced to commute to workplaces far away from home.

As in other state-owned enterprises, institutions and administrative bodies, besides xiagang of a portion of the old workforce, reforms to the employment regime primarily took an “old staff old way, new staff new way” approach. While much of the remaining old staff kept their permanent employment status (固定编制), market-based employment standards were applied to new staff. The latter signed short-term contracts, eventually becoming dispatch workers and finally subcontracted workers.

Permanent employment became a “privilege” that became difficult to obtain, increasingly awarded only to a privileged class of people (via personal connections or backdoor deals). Officials used their authority to install relatives and friends or sell positions to enrich themselves, producing a large number of “loafers” (吃闲饭).

 

Status and conditions of workers

Prior to the 1980s, the social status and income of railway workers were relatively high. Local and nationally chosen “model workers” often included railway employees. The income of a railway worker could feed a small family – something that has become increasingly difficult. Most workers had a strong sense of honour, pride, and responsibility. “Contradictions between cadres and the masses” were not as acute then as nowadays. As such, the railway was widely considered a good place to work. Moreover, because the state limited the quota of railway workers and the channels to employment were few, many old workers took early retirement or even let work injuries go unreported in order to seek jobs for their children. In the 1980s, the government implemented “single-man leadership” to strengthen the power and position of managers. Discontent against workplace, work and management grew by the day, and work attitudes became more passive. The old method of “ideological work” (思想政治工作) no longer had an effect and many workers preferred paying fines to participating in the “political education” organised by their workplaces. The rulers (统治者) were no longer able to control and demand workers to prioritise work over family. Since the 1990s, SOEs [in general] have declined [in status and conditions], so they have become less attractive places of employment. Many people sought work elsewhere or set up their own businesses. Those that remained endured wave after wave of “reducing the quantity [of workers] while raising the quality [of work]” and massive xiagang.

The early 2000s witnessed an unexpected increase of economic prosperity, in which many SOEs revived, some event developing into “behemoths” (巨无霸). Worker remuneration rose and employment [in some SOEs] was once again regarded as a “high-income” and secure “iron rice bowl.” However, this often resulted in a massive increase of “loafers” with bought positions, while frontline workers had to face worsening manpower shortages and hardships. Only university graduates could work as formal employees, while lower paid dispatch workers filled the remaining positions. Overstaffing coexisted with manpower shortages. For employees without personal connections, having their children attend vocational schools or join the military were important avenues to obtaining employment at the railway. Today these avenues have been closed off. Because of this, workers from eighteen bureaus have respectively initiated [labor dispute] actions, achieving partial success.

However, compared to many other large-scale SOEs, the treatment of railway workers has been relatively poor. When Liu Zhijun (刘志军) was head of Ministry of Railways, he liked to say “to achieve a great leap, a generation must be sacrificed.” A great many employees were plunged into difficulties, prompting the new minister to issue a document titled “The Three Don’ts”: “Don’t let a single employee’s family fall below the poverty line; don’t let a single employee’s child be unable to attend school; don’t let a single worker be unable to seek medical help.” To sooth sentiments, wages were also raised.

While officials blamed the 23 July 2011 Wenzhou train collision on design flaws in the signal systems, the head of the technical investigation team testified that the accident was the result of poor management and the deterioration of working conditions:

It clearly is a management problem… entirely an issue of training, of not employing students from vocational and technical schools but from university. Important posts were cut by reckless streamlining. Trains don’t even have co-drivers, so drivers have no time to relieve themselves. A serious accident can happen when a driver grows weary. There are no backups for on-duty personnel who need them. Fuses in the signal equipment burned out by lightning went undetected, but no one dared to stop the trains, despite failing to locate the problem. These issues have now been corrected.

The work of frontline workers has always been backbreaking. Work at the locomotive section is especially tough, with occupational hazards abounding. The overworking of drivers has been such a problem for decades that complaints of being overworked are dismissed by retired drivers as just part of the job. They have long accustomed themselves to being overworked. What’s more, a considerable number of drivers, especially those from rural or poor family backgrounds, hope that the extra hours they put in can earn them overtime pay.

On the other hand, compared to ordinary workers (especially in economically less-developed regions), railway workers, even dispatch ones, enjoy better remuneration, welfare and security. Citing the Urumqi Railway Bureau as example: “the income of a dispatch worker at the Maintenance and Repair Section is between 3,500 and 4,000 yuan, a regular worker earns between 7,500 and 8,000,” “dispatch workers can complete their social insurance payments in a single month (一个月交完社保) at only 3,500 yuan, for which they are even grateful to the Communist Party.” The firing of formal employees is extremely rare (the more serious punishment is suspension) as it has to go through multiple procedures, and the compensation paid out is high. Dispatch workers, in contrast, are easily scapegoated and dismissed.

Train driver pay varies by area, ranging from about 5,000 to over 10,000 yuan per month. The latter amount is awarded for very tough areas like Xinjiang and Qinghai-Tibet, or for high volumes of overtime work. Wages of 5,000 or more yuan were relatively high in Chinese cities some years back, but an ordinary electronics factory worker outside of Shenzhen’s Special Economic Zone (关外) can now earn four or five thousand yuan per month in a good season. Construction workers also enjoyed a large wage increase during the period of intensive infrastructure construction. Compared to them, railway worker pay is not particularly high.

Last year (2015), the economic depression (萧条) led to a dramatic drop in bulk cargo shipments, causing many railway bureaus to post losses. As a result, wage increases promised to workers were cut back once again, while punitive wage deductions continued to increase. However, this did not spur strong and widespread resistance, highlighting the low spirits of workers at the time. Those who are more proactive often feel helpless against the passivity of their peers. There was just one notable incident on November 2015 when more than 70 workers at the Beijing Railway Bureau protested deductions ranging from 500 to 1500 yuan that had been ongoing for many months, chanting “dear chief, return our wages,” ultimately managing to win back 500 yuan of wages for each month.

Large SOEs are publicly demonised as monopolies, with their workers seen as “labour aristocrats.” It is difficult for SOE workers, especially formal employees, to obtain sympathy from the public or other workers. A certain labour NGO in southern China that organises workers and documents labour news has met workers who say, “Strikes by railway workers should not be included [in their archive of labour struggles]” because “their wages are already so high, yet they’re still not content.” There is even less public support and sympathy for SOE workers who fight to obtain employment for their children. Still, this has yet to pose obstacles to the struggle. After all, workers of various regions and industries have always struggled alone. They rely on themselves first and foremost – as they should.

At the moment, Chinese workers in general are depoliticised, and railway workers are no exception. Workers with any degree of militancy are often manipulated by mainstream oppositional ideology into fantasizing about utilising privatisation and more thorough marketisation to win more job choices and bargaining power for workers by eliminating “idle parasites” and corrupt, domineering bureaucrats. There are also some who look back nostalgically on the days of Mao, but these often fantasize about becoming rulers themselves. On the whole, regardless of political leaning or the lack thereof, workers remain somewhat politically naive and lacking in judgment.

Many workers wish labour unions would stand up for them, but do not take the initiative to build their own unions or some other form of self-organisation. Workers from various places have attempted to organise unions or mutual-aid groups, but their efforts have been quickly suppressed. Official labour unions have generally been sidelined and sometimes act as accomplices to management crackdowns on resisting workers.

 

The case of train driver Li Weijie’s struggle

In April 2012, Li Weijie (李伟杰), an electric train driver with the Luoyang Locomotive Section of the Zhengzhou Railway Bureau, fell and hurt himself at work. Management refused to recognise the injury as work-related, transferred him out and imposed a large wage cut. In the process of the legal fight for his rights (依法维权), Old Li embarked on a series of labour dispute arbitrations and litigations after learning that many other employees had also encountered similar problems, finally launching a solo battle for the rights of all drivers – and of railway workers in general. For these efforts, Li was heavily persecuted.

His case resonated with many railway workers at every bureau, especially train drivers, who got in touch via QQ Groups. Many of the demands in his petition to the court were drafted based on his discussions with other drivers. The main points were:

  1. The time from illegally imposed driver rest periods used for productivity training, examinations and waiting for trains should be considered overtime.
  2. Work in excess of the legal monthly limit of 166.6 hours should be paid overtime.
  3. The wage rates (工资基数) used in paid leave and overtime calculations are illegal.
  4. The private introduction of assessment items and associated punitive deductions of employee pay by various units are illegal.
  5. The failure to pay doubled wages for workers who worked on holidays but did not take compensatory on-leave days [should be addressed].

These problems are common and widespread. Worrying that a disturbance may break out among workers, the Zhengzhou Railway Bureau established a small taskforce to tackle the issue. They isolated Li, toughened the control over employees to ensure that no one could testify in court. As part of this, agents were stationed outside the courthouse to intercept any employees who might appear. During the hearing, the court ignored the evidence Li submitted and did not subpoena the bureau for important documents, rejecting every claim other than Li’s work injury. Even that was downgraded in order to lower his compensation. In response, Li began another litigation. At the same time, in order to assuage employees, the Zhengzhou Bureau leadership announced that a sum of 100 million yuan would be paid out to locomotive crews as overtime pay. Apart from this, many bureaus also improved the remuneration of locomotive crews.

In the process of litigation, Li discovered that the signature for renewing his employment contract was not his, so he filed another legal case, demanding that the bureau double his pay in accordance with the law. However, he lost each and every case. The “rule of law” the Chinese government is currently promoting aggressively is, in Li’s view, beneficial to the common people but difficult to get anything out of.[…]

In 2011, Wang Zhen (王振), a senior driver from the Harbin Railway Bureau, filed a similar lawsuit, experiencing much adversity before ultimately losing. Strategically speaking, what needs to be pointed out is that it is difficult for litigations by individual workers for the collective benefit of every worker to achieve serious and enduring results, so these individuals may be paying a high price needlessly. Collective gains ultimately require collective action in order to win. Laws pertaining to workers’ rights and interests are not useless, but collective action needs to be applied for maximum effect. From the various existing cases of collective struggles by railway workers [such as the 2015 struggle of Beijing Bureau workers mentioned above], we can see that while their leaders also invested much effort on the legal front, they achieved a stronger position in their interactions with management and did not have to face the sophistry of lawyers backed by the courts, nor the problem of “insufficient evidence.” [More of these collective struggles will be addressed in a forthcoming article.]

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原文:

中国铁路工人的状况和斗争

伍壹

2016年初

 

一、中国铁路的大发展

近30年来,尽管中国的公路交通和航空运输发展很快,10年来汽车销量更是惊人,但是中国没有完全走上美国的路子,政府最终选择放慢了铁路改制进度,以国家之力大举发展铁路,并且相当成功——实现了电气化,营业里程已达11万公里以上,仅次于美国;还拥有最大规模的快速铁路线和高速铁路网,目前正极力向各国推销高铁。2008年经济危机爆发之后,铁路基建是4万亿财政扩张政策的重点项目之一(“十一五”期间计划投资2万亿元),至今还是如此。对中国的经济发展和人民生活来说,铁路的重要性比在美国要大得多。不过,由于中国有13亿之多的人口,所以人均拥有铁路的长度仍是很低的。另一方面,铁路的发展意味着工人虽然被普遍降薪,但目前的岗位仍较有保障。

和其他国企一样,80年代之后的铁路改革的方向也是市场化、私有化。2012年撤销铁道部,组建铁路总公司,就是为市场化做准备。铁道部80年代以来提出的各种具体方案,都是参考了各国铁路改革模式以后拟订的,包括“大包干”(铁路成为完全的企业,每年上缴5%的营业收入,各铁路局自主经营)、“网运分离”。政府则采取了谨慎态度。因为到80年代,铁路发展建设的速度一直慢于其他行业,也落后于人口的巨大增长,导致运输能力严重不足、设备老化和超负荷,发生过十多起重大事故。政府还顾虑到铁路牵涉全国经济和国家安全等重要问题,而先前的承包制、各局成立客运公司等改革都造成大量内部利益冲突,甚至大亏损。铁路完全市场化,会削弱国家的调控和管理能力,使局部利益损害资本积累的整体利益。最明显的例子是每年春运,铁路都要首先保证不挣钱或利润很低的客运,而将部分货运业务推迟;不论私有化还是市场化,提高票价都将是不可避免的,而到现在,中国铁路已经保持20年票价不变了。

 

二、铁路改制与工人组成

虽然铁路保持国有化——此外也存在着地方铁路和少量私营铁路——也没有走到完全市场化的地步,但是从组织结构、管理制度到用工制度,铁路经历了和其它国企相似的、本质上是资本主义化的各种改革。铁路大发展的成功,伴随着“干部贵族化,工人奴隶化”的现代企业制度的建立。一线工人的压力不断增大,待遇增长相对缓慢,合同工、劳务工和外包工增多。

中国铁路所涵盖的企业、机构、人员,是相当庞大和复杂的。从20世纪末开始的“主辅分离”改革中,铁路物资、通信、设计、施工企业等移交给了国资委及所属企业管理(例如,施工建设主要由中铁和铁建来进行;机车制造由南车、北车两家公司进行。这些都是独立的上市公司);学校、幼儿园、医院等服务设施或职工福利机构从主业划出;1982年成立的铁路运输法院和检察院系统移交给地方部门。目前铁路职工约有220万人(80年代中期是320万人),加上家属有千万人以上。

还有许多职工,往往是原铁路职工家属,从80年代开始就分配在附属于铁路的“集体”性质的企业或“多种经营”的公司里,许多工人干着与正式职工同样的工作,但待遇低、保障差。按照现行的改革计划,铁路的“大集体”企业将在明年改制完毕,大批工人面临下岗失业。2016年1月25日至1月27日期间,哈尔滨铁路局2千名以上的集体企业职工在路局门前集会,打出横幅,因为他们的养老保险金出现了8年断档,结果比其他工人每月少领上千元;他们还要求补足欠薪和各种补助金拖欠等。但是2月1日, 当他们再次组织集会时,遭到严密的控制与打压。此外,上海和武汉的铁路集体工也抗争了多年。

用工制度方面。80年代之后,许多职工子女和从社会上招聘的工人,越来越多地采取合同制形式,基本上没有希望成为正式职工。到了2008年《劳动合同法》出台。劳务派遣开始泛滥,许多合同工被转为派遣工。而在2012年底新修订的《劳动合同法》和2014年的《劳务派遣暂行规定》出台以后,铁路的大批劳务工被清退,或者被转为外包工,更无保障了。2015年12月9日,来自陕西的40名客运餐车的派遣工曾到北京的铁路总公司上访,要求同工同酬。

80年代的改革中,铁路和其他国企一样盛行搞承包,搞创收。但因为国家限制票价,职工得到的利益较少,“路风不正”的问题却开始蔓延,比如员工私下带旅客进站,加以事故频发,后来,上级路局以此为由进行大力整顿,结果是把职工变成了奴隶。铁道部从1996年开始鼓励各局通过加大处罚力度来实施管理,把工人的部分工资划出,从几百到几千不等,作为“捆绑工资”,制订日益繁复的细则,对工人进行考核扣款。各局各段的管理层对此极为热衷,一来借以控制、分化和压迫职工,并把至关重要的安全责任尽可能地加在一线工人身上,二来可以通过扣罚工人来增加自己的奖金。近年来,各局都在驾驶室安装了视频装置监控司机,并要求司机使用录音笔,这使司机们非常反感。重大安全事故是减少了,但一线的铁路工人承受了巨大压力,甚至感到饱受折磨,尽管职工被扣罚的款项占工资收入比例未必很高。

2005年实行的撤销铁路分局和站段合并改革,使全路的站段数量由1491个减少到627个。除了大批工人下岗之外,还产生了相当数量的通勤职工,每天被迫到离家很远的地方上下班。

和其他国企、事业和行政机关一样,在下岗潮之外,用工制度改革主要采取“老人老办法,新人新办法”,让部分老员工保留固定编制,新员工则适用市场化用工标准,签短期合同,后来改为派遣工以至外包工。“固定编制”越来越成为难以取得的“特权”,并日益为特权人士(关系户,有背景、走后门者)所独享。官员利用职权安插亲朋,或拿编制名额来敛财,产生了大量“吃闲饭”的人员。

 

三、工人的地位与状况

80年代以前,铁路工人的社会地位和收入相对较高。地方和国家评选的劳模,往往少不了铁路职工。一位职工的收入可以养活一家几口人(现今越来越难了)。工人大多有很强的荣誉感、自豪感、责任感。干群矛盾也不如现在尖锐。因此铁路是公认的“好单位”。加上国家限制职工编制,就业渠道少,许多铁路老职工通过提早退休甚至不报工伤,来谋求单位安置子女的工作。80年代政府推行“一长制”,强化管理层的权力和地位。工人对单位、工作和管理层的不满日益增加,心态也趋向消极。“思想政治工作”之类的老办法已经失效,许多工人宁愿被罚款,也不参加单位组织的“政治学习”。统治者无力再以此控制工人,要求工人“为了工作不顾家”了。而到了90年代以后,国企日益衰落,就业吸引力逐渐下降。许多人选择外出打工或做生意。在职工人则经历了一波又一波“减员增效”和大下岗的洗礼。

但在近十多年的出人意料的经济大繁荣时期,许多国企“起死回生”,甚至发展成“巨无霸”。工人待遇有所提高,重新成为人们眼中“高收入”、有保障的“铁饭碗”。但结果通常是,买编制吃闲饭的人员大大增加,一线工人的人手越来越紧张,越来越辛苦;大学毕业生才能进铁路当正式工,其余的空缺则由待遇较低的劳务工来填补。结果是超员和人手不足并存。对没有门路的铁路职工来说,让子女上职业学校,或者参军复员,是进入铁路谋一份工作的重要渠道。现在这条路已被封闭。18个局的职工为此先后发起过行动,并得到部分成功。

但是和其他许多央企、大型国企相比,铁路职工的待遇相对要差。刘志军任部长时有一句口号:“牺牲一代人,实现大跨越!”结果是大量职工生活陷入困难,以致于新任的铁道部长出台了一份“三不让”文件:“不让一名职工家庭生活在贫困线以下、不让一名职工子女上不起学、不让一名职工看不起病”;并且为了安抚人心,给铁路职工加了工资。

2011年的“7·23动车事故”被官方主要归咎为信号设计缺陷。但调查组技术组长的证词,反映了铁路管理制度和职工劳动条件恶化的后果:

“明明是管理问题。……完全是人员培训问题,不录用职业技术学院的学生,用大学生。随便精简机构,把一些重要岗位减掉了。火车连副司机都没有,就一个司机操作,解手都没时间。司机一累,可能出大事。值班员应该有两个但也只有一个。雷击导致信号设备保险丝烧了,就是发现不了,找不到问题也不敢停车,最后出问题。这些现在都改正了。”

铁路一线工人的工作,向来是辛苦的。机务段尤其辛苦,并且面临诸多职业危害。作为特殊工种的司机的超劳现象,延续了几十年,以至于有司机抱怨超劳的时候,一些退休老职工则回应:当火车司机哪有不超劳的。他们已习以为常了。同时,还有不少司机,尤其是来自农村、家境贫苦的司机,寄望于多超劳以赚取加班费。

另一方面,和当地(特别是经济不发达地区)的普通工人相比,铁路职工,甚至派遣工,在待遇、福利和保障方面也有一定的优势。以乌局为例:“工务段劳务工的收入3500到4000之间,(正式)职工7500到8000之间”,“劳务工一个月交完社保,3500,觉得共产党都在开恩了。” 开除正式职工是很少见的(较严厉的惩罚是待岗),需要经过多道手续,支付颇高的赔偿。劳务工则很容易成为铁路事故的替罪羊而遭解雇。

火车司机由于地区不同,收入有差异,从5千多起,至1万多。后者往往是新疆、青藏等非常艰苦的地区,以及通过大量的超时加班得到的收入。5千以上的工资,在前几年的中国城市里,相对较高,但现在深圳关外普通电子厂工人在旺季时,也可能拿到4、5千元了;建筑工人在基建热潮中,工资也有大幅上涨。铁路职工的待遇与之相比,实在不高。

2015年,经济萧条导致煤炭等大宗货物的运量大减,各局出现亏损。结果工人原定增加的工资又被扣回,考核扣款力度则不断加大。但这一切并没有得到工人们普遍而有力的反抗。这很可以说明铁路工人暂时的消沉状态。工人当中相对积极的分子,也常常对这种消沉感到无奈。只有2015年11月初北京铁路局70多名职工前往路局抗议一事,较为突出。他们连续多个月被克扣500至1500元不等,高呼“有请局长,还我工资”,最后争回每月500元的工资。

大型国企通常被舆论以垄断企业之名“妖魔化”,国企工人则有意被描述成“工人贵族”。所以,国企工人——尤其是正式职工——的抗争很难得到社会舆论以至其他工人的同情。南方某劳工NGO组织工人搞“劳工新闻评选”。有工友说:“铁路的罢工不能选,他们工资那么高了,还不满意。”国企职工争取子女就业,更不可能得到支持和共鸣。目前来说,这还不构成抗争的障碍。各地、各企业工人本来就都是“孤军奋战”的,首先靠的是工人自己,本来也应如此。

目前,中国工人普遍是“非政治化”的,铁路工人也一样。有一定抗争性的工人,思想上则往往受主流反对派的愚弄,幻想私有化和彻底的市场化能为工人带来更多的就业选择和议价能力,能够清除吃闲饭的寄生虫和腐败专横的各级官僚。还有部分工人向往毛时代,但这类工人往往感染了对上层统治者的幻想。总体来说,不管是否有政治倾向,工人在政治方面都还是相当幼稚,缺乏分辨能力的。

许多工人希望有工会出头“替工人说话”,但这也意味着工人还没有打算自己着手来建立工会,或其他形式的自我组织。个别地方的铁路职工尝试过组织工会或互助会,很快受到打压而夭折。至于官方工会,一般来说是边缘化的,有时还出面充当管理层的帮凶,打压抗争的工人。

 

个案:火车司机李伟杰的抗争

郑州局洛阳机务段洛襄车间电力司机李伟杰2012年4月在单位里摔伤,管理层不愿认定其为工伤,将其调离岗位并大幅减少工资。在依法维权的过程中,老李了解到职工的很多权益被侵害,因而走上劳动争议的仲裁和诉讼之路,最后孤身发起争取全体火车司机(以至铁路职工)权益之战,为此饱受打击。

他的案子,引发了各局众多铁路工人,尤其是火车司机的共鸣。工人们通过QQ群联络。他向法院所提的诉求,有许多是经过与其他司机讨论之后做出的。主要内容有:

 

1、非法强制占用火车司机休息时间进行生产培训、考试以及待乘的时间应为加班;

2、月超过法定166.6工作小时应依法支付加班费;

3、有薪假和加班计算的工资基数不合法;

4、单位私自制定罚款考核项目克扣职工工资属于违法;

5、大休班安排工作从未安排过调休,没支付200%的工资。

 

这是铁路系统普遍存在的问题。郑州铁路局担心工人中间引发骚动,成立了专案小组来应对;孤立李伟杰,加强对职工的控制,以保证无人出庭作证,包括开庭前派人在法院之外拦截可能到场的职工。在审理过程中,法院无视李伟杰提出的证据,也未从铁路局调取必要的文件,几乎驳回了所有诉求,仅承认其工伤(作为报复,在工伤鉴定时,李伟杰的伤残等级被降低,从而降低了伤残待遇。李伟杰为此再次起诉)。同时,为了安抚职工,郑州局领导表示已拿出一亿元给机车乘务人员发放超时加班费。此外,另有多个铁路局改善了机车乘务人员的工资待遇。

在诉讼过程中,李伟杰发现《劳动合同》上的续签笔迹并非出自本人,后来又据此提起诉讼,要求路局依法支付双倍工资。但所有这些案子无一例外地败诉。中国政府目前大力宣传“依法治国”,李伟杰表示,这对老百姓是有利的,但很难得到落实。他判决书都是法院的枉法判决。

2011年,哈尔滨铁路局的老司机王振也发起过相似的诉讼,同样经历许多磨难,并以败诉告终。从斗争策略来说,应该指出:个别职工发起涉及职工整体利益的诉讼,是很难争取到重大、持久的成果的,工人本身则可能不必要地付出惨重代价。集体利益终归要通过集体行动来争取。有关工人权益的法律并非无用,但是,应当运用到集体行动中去,才能取得最佳效果。从已有的一些铁路司机集体抗争的案例中,我们可以看到,领头人都在劳动法规方面下了很多功夫,并且在与管理层的交涉中占到相当优势,不必面对律师的狡辩和法院的偏袒,也不存在“证据不足”的问题。

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