Recently, anti-epidemic staff known as Dabai or Big Whites suddenly went on a joint strike at several PCR testing sites in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province.
This happened shortly after Chinese authorities officially declared that the epidemic was “more serious.” What is the reason behind it?
According to photos taken by mainland netizens, posted by NTDTV on July 22, test tubes and equipment have remained on the tables of some PCR testing sites in Shenyang, but on the exterior glass wall, a piece of paper was taped that said: “strikes due to wages owed.” Not only have the Big Whites been unable to claim benefits, but leaders also threatened them, forcing them to delete their posts on social networks.
There are also chat messages showing that anti-epidemic staff on some streets in Sujiatun district and Huanggu district in Shenyang also were owed their salaries.
A screenshot shows some of them have complained on Douyin (the Chinese version of Tiktok).
Gu Guoping, a retired teacher in Shanghai, said: “The PCR testing industry is a relatively lucrative one. Since it’s a lucrative industry, why does the government owe salaries? Government agencies are shady, and the medical staff do not know how the government works. Therefore, local governments steal money from their subordinates, making them unable to receive their salary. Local governments do not have any monitoring mechanism.”
Mr. Li, a media man familiar with epidemic testing procedures and basic operations, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that some local governments are scaling up PCR testing, but there is no so-called state subsidy in this regard, which has led to a lack of wages for health workers.
Some also say that the normalization of PCR testing has affected people.
According to NTDTV, Ms. Ma, a mainland resident, said: “Beidaihe has a regulation of doing PCR testing once a week, and Beijing does it every two days. PCR testing has been normalized. You have to do it. If you don’t have a PCR test certificate, you can’t take the bus, you can’t go to supermarkets. In the first place, the government used people’s money. The people who do the PCR test said they make a lot of money, so it’s impossible to cancel the PCR test. Now, there’s no epidemic and they’re still doing the testing.”
In Shanghai, a park on Changyang Road required a 24-hour PCR test certificate, leading to people having to take the test twice daily, sparking a public outcry.
The joint strike incident due to wages owed caused heated discussions among netizens. Some people believe that, because the salaries cannot be paid, they should not be tested in the future, while some criticize testing companies, officials, and people in business for colluding with each other to profit and cause difficulties for the country, earn so much money and still not paying salaries. Some netizens mocked that the government not only owed the wages of “Big Whites” but also suppressed them when they filed complaints.
Netizen Wind Ninja Post commented: “I heard that some places stopped PCR testing due to wages owed. Big White, who is doing PCR testing, is angry. But you are volunteers, how much salary do you want?”
Netizen Changchun Railway Vehicle condemned that: “China’s zero-tolerance policy towards the Omicron variant is how the country learned to make it difficult for its development, there are too many tricks in it. Testing companies have come up with dozens of false test reports saying they’re positive, and then all residents have to get tested, and a city can get tested from a few million to hundreds of millions of times. Appraisal companies made a lot of money in silence, hands tired from counting money. A perfect round. Then the boss flew to the US. It was like a thunderstorm at Henan Rural Bank. Don’t you think so?”