It was Saturday, September 10, when I received the first e-mail of Yuan Yipeng from Shanghai, China. It was a pretty casual e-mail with the subject line: “Complaint with IBM China CSR.”
By Rakesh Raman
However, the text headlines along with four hyperlinks prompted me to study the whole case that Yuan tried to explain. The headlines were: “Tragedy of Labor Rights Repression in IBM China,” “Burdens and Hardships: Protesting Against IBM,” “Scandal stricken IBM detained mother of ex-employee on the day of centennial,” and “Suicidal IBM employee Yuan Yipeng rescued by police from river.”
The information under these hyperlinks detailed the case in which Yuan Yipeng, whose employment contract was terminated by IBM about four years ago, is still trying to get his job back, as he feels that the IBM decision was not only immoral, but it was illegal also.
After studying his case from the initial information supplied by him, on Monday, September 12, I wrote a mail to him, asking some specific details about the case – to which Yuan responded promptly. He also gave me the names and e-mail contacts of IBM officials connected with this case along with more evidence supporting his case.
Yuan has also presented an Arbitration Ruling of 2008 in his favour, which he says is ignored by IBM. He explains that now he’s supported by only his old parents who protest peacefully in front of IBM China Chip Design Center, Shanghai, China, where Yuan was employed as a research engineer.
On February 27, 2008, IBM informed him in a letter that his employment had been terminated when he wanted to come back after a brief illness, according to Yuan.
In his explanation, Yuan goes on to describe IBM’s unhealthy HR moves, its attempts to influence local media, the tech company’s use of force against his parents, and so on.
A few months ago, on June 16, Yuan says he “even made a suicide bid by jumping into Huangpu River after taking some sleeping pills.” But he was rescued. Now, after job loss and his failure to persuade IBM to take him back, Yuan calls himself “a defeated pile of trash.”
So, before writing the article, I approached IBM on September 12 with a list of questions to know IBM’s point of view on Yuan’s case.
My questions to IBM are given below:
1. What’s Yuan Yipeng’s current relationship with IBM?
2. If his job has been terminated by IBM, what’s the reason for that?
3. Why is IBM not responding to his messages (as an employee or an ex-employee)?
4. Has IBM ignored any court or administrative orders that decided in favour of Yuan Yipeng and asked IBM to reinstate his job with IBM?
5. Was Yuan Yipeng asked to work from home instead of attending office? If yes, why?
6. Has the department in which Yuan Yipeng worked closed? If yes, what’s the reason? And can’t he be redeployed in some other IBM department?
7. Has IBM given the similar treatment to other employees also and terminated their jobs? If yes, please provide details of those cases [name of the employee(s), dates of job termination, reasons for termination, etc.]
8. If Yuan Yipeng’s job has been terminated, is there a chance that he can get his job back in IBM (China)? If yes, how? If no, why not?
9. You can add any other point from your side to shed light on this case.
I got a couple of e-mails and a phone call from IBM office, informing me that I will get the IBM response today, September 14.
But surprisingly, to all the above questions, IBM sent me a curt response: “The People’s Court of the Shanghai Pudong ruled that IBM does not have any legal obligation to arrange employment for Mr Yuan Yipeng.”
The IBM e-mail also asked me to use the statement attributing it to an IBM spokesperson.
While all my above questions to IBM stand unanswered, the IBM behaviour clearly indicates that the company is trying to hide certain facts in this case, while poor Yuan has been suffering along with his old parents in China.
As I am in the process of collecting more facts from other sources, this case is still open. Stay tuned.
Photo courtesy: The above picture is provided by Yuan Yipeng. In the picture, his parents are believed to be protesting in front of IBM facility to support their son’s efforts to take his job back.
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