China’s Two-Minute Bathroom Break Rebellion

A few hundred Shanghai factory workers are mad as hell and—well, it sounds like they’ll probably have to take it some more. But they struck an important, if temporary, blow for human dignity in their recent insurrection against that most unthinkable corporate stricture: timed bathroom breaks.

New rules handed down by the top brass at Shinmei Electric Company included an $8 fine for being late once (do it twice and you’re fired) as well as a two-minute limit on all bathroom business. It didn’t take long, under these conditions, for the Chinese and Japanese managers to become hostages.

This sort of thing wasn’t covered in the handbook! The resulting standoff lasted a full day and ended without injury when 300 police officers turned up. But I hope that in those 24 hours, the hostages were allowed to make use of the toilets according to their own needs and without threat of punishment. It would mean those protesters took the moral high ground in the lowest of territories, no?

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