[Broadcast on 19 August 2006]
On 6 January 2005, Zeng La'an was hit by a vehicle when he went across the road. He was working overtime and carrying more than 100 catties of goods on his back at Shima Logistic Company in Qiaokou district of Wuhan city. His employer refused to pay his medical treatment, saying that it was a traffic accident but not an industrial injury. Then, Zeng decided to fight for his rights through courts. However, he did not expect that he would also experience hard times in the course of labour dispute arbitration and legal proceedings.
Han Dongfang: When did the accident happen to you?
Zeng La'an: 6 January 2005.
Han: So, it's just after the New Year.
Zeng: Yes, just after the New Year.
Han: What kind of company were you working for at that time?
Zeng: Shima Logistics Company.
Han: So what did the company do?
Zeng: logistics and delivery service.
Han: By railway or shipping?
Zeng: By trucks.
Han: So, what's your job in the company?
Zeng: I was a team leader of the installation department
Han: So, what kind of accident happened on that day?
Zeng: My boss asked me to carry some goods to a place. The goods were on the southern side of the highway, while the warehouse was located in the northern side of the highway, which meant that inevitably I had to go across the road.
Han: So you were carrying the goods at that time?
Zeng: Yes, I was carrying the goods on my back. I was hit by the vehicle when I was carrying the goods on my back.
Han: You were hit by the vehicle when you're carrying the goods on your back?
Han: Were you alone at that time?
Zeng: There were many people around. They all knew about that.
Han: So you were carrying the goods with your co-workers when you had the accident?
Zeng: Yes, I was alone carrying the goods to the warehouse. My co-workers were unloading the goods.
Han: Others were unloading the goods. You were the one who carried the goods?
Han: How were your injuries after you were hit by the vehicle?
Zeng: After I was hit by the vehicle, the bone on my leg was fractured and my leg was broken.
Han: Your leg was injured?
Zeng: Right, my right leg.
Han: Who took you to the hospital?
Zeng: When I was hit by the vehicle, my boss was getting on the lorry. When I looked back at the vehicle which hit me, it was driven off already. Then, my colleagues called 110 and traffic police officers came to take me to the hospital.
Han: You were still conscious at that time, weren't you?
Zeng: I needed some time to resume my consciousness after the accident.
Han: What kind of treatment did you get in the hospital?
Zeng: After I was admitted to the hospital, the company refused to pay my medical treatment. They said I was a worker and didn't have money. I couldn't afford the medical treatment, so I didn't do the surgery for eight days. The hospital kept asking me for money everyday. They said they could help me do the surgery and give me medicine as long as I could give them money. They also said that even if they could help me do the surgery first, I still needed to pay for the medicine; otherwise my leg would become limped.
Han: So, you needed to do the surgery immediately at that time?
Han: The hospital didn't help you do it because you didn't have money?
Han: Which hospital was it?
Zeng: Wuhan No.1 Hospital.
Han: Were the wounds inside or outside your skin?
Han: So the outer skin was not hurt?
Han: So, the purpose of the surgery was to unite the fractured bone or what?
Zeng: The purpose of the surgery was to unite the fractured bone by adding small steel bars and a small steel plate on it.
Han: So, it would delay the treatment to such serious injuries if the surgery was not done as soon as possible?
Zeng: It definitely delayed the treatment.
Han: The hospital said they would not help you do the surgery if you didn't have money?
Zeng: They just said even if they could help me do the surgery first, the hospital's pharmacy could not give me the medicine if I didn't have money.
Han: That means your injuries would not be cured without the medicine even if they could help you do the operation?
Zeng: Right. I said something good to the doctor. I told him that I would get the money as soon as possible. He said that even if he could help me do the operation, I could not get the medicine from the pharmacy if I didn't have money.
Han: Couldn't the hospital's pharmacy give you the medicine first?
Zeng: I was unable to negotiate with them. I couldn't do the surgery for eight days.
Han: You didn't have the operation for eight days?
Zeng: Right. I couldn't do anything there, so I changed to another hospital, where I knew my son's classmate was working. I had the operation there.
Han: So you changed to another hospital where your son's friend was working?
Han: So, you had the operation there even though you couldn't give them the money?
Zeng: He agreed to be my guarantee. The hospital arranged for me to have the operation although I didn't give any money at that time.
Han: They helped you do the operation because you knew someone in the hospital?
Zeng: Yes. It's because I had a guarantee. I had to pay the medical treatment myself after I got well.
Han: So, it's because you have a guarantee, they helped you do the operation first.
Zeng: Yes. I paid the medical treatment myself by own wages and my guarantee didn't need to give them any money.
Han: Since you had the accident and were admitted to the hospital and couldn't do the operation for eight days because you didn't have money, did anyone from Shima Logistics Company come to talk about paying your medical treatment?
Zeng: We [My family] went to them for many times, but they said it's a traffic accident.
Han: The company said it's a traffic accident?
Zeng: Right. They said they didn't make me injured. It's the vehicle. It's a traffic accident.
Han: But were you working at that time?
Zeng: I was carrying the goods. I was working.
Han: Then, did you tell the company that you were actually injured during your work and it was industrial injury according to the labour law?
Zeng: I told them. I did. But they didn't admit it. They simply didn't admit it. At last, I demanded compensation from them for many times. They just gave me 2,000 yuan.
Han: They gave you only 2,000 yuan finally?
Han: When did they give you the money?
Zeng: That's when I had the surgery in the other hospital. We don't have money, we workers don't have money.
Han: So, you got the 2,000 yuan when you were waiting to have the operation during the eight days.
Han: Then, what could you do with the 2,000 yuan?
Zeng: Could only use it to buy food.
Han: So, they didn't give you any more than the 2,000 yuan?
Zeng: Right. Even the traffic police told my company that they should pay my medical treatment to cure my leg injuries first. The police also said they had caught the driver who drove away.
Han: Even so, the company still refused to pay your medical treatment?
Zeng: Right. Later, I went to demand compensation from them again. The traffic police also came with me. The company gave me another 2,000 yuan. So, they gave me 4,000 yuan in total. But they refused to give me any more.
Han: Is your company a privately owned enterprise?
Han: How many employees are there in your company?
Zeng: I have no idea, but I know that my company has more than ten subsidiaries.
Han: How many people are there in your team of the installation department?
Zeng: We have eight people in our team and there are other teams of workers.
Han: Do you have labour contracts? Or you are temporary workers or what?
Zeng: We don't have any labour contract.
Han: When did you start working in the company?
Zeng: I started working in March 2004.
Han: You were injured in early 2005?
Zeng: Right. One and half months before I had worked there for one year.
Han: You didn't sign any labour contract all along?
Zeng: We didn't sign any labour contract. Our company didn't sign any contract with us.
Han: Your company's staff didn't sign any labour contracts?
Zeng: No contracts.
Han: Do you know that your employer has breached the labour law for not signing labour contracts with you?
Zeng: We're sure that he would not sign the contracts with us. When I filed the lawsuit against my company, I went to talk to the company management and an accounting staff showed me a proof?
Han: What kind of proof?
Zeng: He showed me that I'm a formally employed staff member.
Han: So, at last they admitted that you're a formally employed staff member.
Han: So, when the company refused to pay your medical treatment, what actions did you take?
Zeng: First, we went to find him. He refused to pay and hid away. I called him, but he didn't answer the phone. I asked my friends to go to find him everyday before I had the operation. But he hid away.
Han: He refused to meet you?
Zeng: Right. I called his phone, but he didn't answer. I went to the company to find him. He even didn't answer any calls from the company. He was just like that.
Please continue to listen to my conversation with Zeng La'an from Hubei Province next Tuesday.