Mobile phone footage of the trainer spanking bank staff. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Outcry after Chinese bank staff publicly spanked on training course

Two executives suspended after footage of the punishments is widely circulated on the internet

Two executives from a bank in northwestern China have been suspended from work after a video was circulated on the internet showing staff getting publicly spanked for performing poorly in a training class.

The video, apparently filmed on a mobile phone, showed eight employees in yellow uniforms standing on a platform when a man with microphone asked why they had ranked last in the day’s training.

The eight, including four women, listed reasons such as “failing to make a personal breakthrough” and “inadequate team cohesiveness”.

With a thick stick in his hand, the man said “get your butts ready” and began to spank each of the eight in turn in front of other trainees.

After three rounds, a woman on the far right tried to cover her hip and the man berated her, saying, “take off your hand!”

The 75-second video emerged online on Monday and quickly triggered heated discussion online.

Many criticised the bank executives for the brutal punishment, which they said had violated the rights of employees.

Officials from Shanxi Rural Credit Cooperatives Union later confirmed to the news website that the video was taken on Saturday when the Zhangze Rural Commercial Bank carried out performance training for its 216 staff.

An unnamed member of staff told the Beijing Times that the spanking was only a part of the training that day and as another punishment 16 employees were forced to have their heads shaved.

The newspaper quoted another unnamed female employee as saying that the spanking was a part of the training and the man with the stick was a trainer rather than a bank executive as some internet users claimed.
Staff pictured during the training sessions. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Jiang Yang, the trainer from the Shanghai Hongfeng Leadership Academy who was filmed in the video, later issued a public apology online for his behaviour.

He said physical spanking was “one of the most effective ways to raise consciousness”, although he admitted his training methods may not be acceptable to everybody.

Jiang later told the Beijing Times the aim of the training was to improve students’ way of thinking and to encourage them to be more competitive.

Unnamed sources told the newspaper Jiang charges 100,000 yuan (HK$120,000) a day to carry out training classes.

The Shanxi Rural Credit Cooperatives Union, which oversees the rural commercial bank, said the two executives, including the president of the Zhangze bank, were suspended for failing to assess the training and a special task force had been set up to investigate, the newspaper said.

The bank would also help employees seek compensation from the trainer, it said.