Employees caned, shaved and forced to eat bitter vegetables as punishment

Employees whose weekly performance falls under the expectations of their superiors are forced to eat bitter gourd and caned Photo: Courtesy

If your Kenyan boss is in the habit of quarreling and only yelling at you for not meeting deadlines and targets, thank God. Because in China people get severe punishment for such. Crazy Monday has seen photos labeled “the cruellest punishment in history” showing employees of a Chinese company forced to eat bitter vegetables in front of their coworkers as punishment for not meeting their sales goals.

At Leshang Decorations Corporation, a Chongqing-based company, employees whose weekly performance falls under the expectations of their superiors are forced to eat bitter gourd while their colleagues watch. If any of them spit the vegetables during this humiliating experience, they are forced to eat even more of it. Apparently, the company came up with this cruel punishment as a way of 'motivating' unproductive workers to push themselves harder, so they wouldn’t have to eat the bitter vegetables in the future.

It’s hard to believe that such a way of disciplining employees is practiced in a civilised country, but the horrible event captured in the viral photographs has been confirmed by several of the 40 people who were forced to eat bitter gourds. One anonymous insider told Chinese reporters that this was her first time eating the bitter vegetable and complained that it was exceptionally hard to swallow. “I hiccup when I’m eating the damn bitter gourd, but I have to stop myself from spitting it out,” another one added.

A female employee of Leshang Decorations Corporation revealed that the company had used different forms of punishment in the past, like squats, push-ups and running around the office building two or three times, but at some point managers started complaining that workers were becoming too accustomed to them so they decided to go with something more humiliating. Now, the company orders bitter gourds in bulk at 2.5 yuan per kg, and feeds them to disappointing employees on a weekly basis.

The unusual form of punishment seems to have had a different result than what company bosses were hoping for. Instead of motivating them, the mere thought of having to eat bitter gourd in front of their peers pushed around 50 percent of employees to quit. According to local press, an anonymous female employee gave reporters a list of reasons cited by those who decided to leave the firm: “Their incapability to meet expectations, high pressure, low income and, most importantly, shame caused by being punished in front of their coworkers.”

Although article 88 of China’s labour law states that “If any damage is caused to the employee, the employer shall be held liable for compensation,” companies don’t seem to bothered by that prospect. In the past few years, we have featured several similar forms of humiliating punishment, like forcing workers to crawl on their hands and knees around a lake, and even in the street, in front of passers-by.

This comes against the backdrop of yet another related incident in which staff at a Changzhi Zhangze Rural Commercial Bank in northern China were publicly caned for poor performance. Never mind the same employees had their hair cut also. Sigh!


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