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Strike at Honda plant the latest sign of labor unrest in China

Posted by Author on June 12, 2010

By Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post Foreign Service, Saturday, June 12, 2010 –

BEIJING — Labor strikes continued to spread Friday across parts of China, as newly emboldened workers pressed for higher wages and better conditions, posing a fresh challenge to the government and the country’s only officially sanctioned union.

In Zhangshan, in southeastern China, about 1,700 workers at a factory that makes locks and keys for Honda Motors staged an unusual march through the city streets Friday morning, media reports and labor activists said.

The workers walked off the job Wednesday, demanding more pay and the right to elect their own union representatives. That was a direct affront to the country’s official union, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

Two Honda plants in Guangdong province remain idle because of work stoppages.

Meanwhile, the unrest spread to China’s other main industrial base, in the Yangtze River Delta, when 2,000 workers at a Taiwanese computer-parts plant walked off the job in Shanghai’s Pudong district.

In Kunshan City, in Jiangsu, just outside Shanghai, workers striking at a Taiwanese-owned rubber factory this week clashed with police who tried to break up their protest. Workers also walked off the job this week at a Japanese industrial sewing machine plant in Xian and at a Taiwanese sporting goods factory in Jiujiang, in Jiangxi province.

Economists, labor experts and activists said that there are many more strikes and work stoppages across China, but that the unrest largely unreported in the strictly controlled state-run media.

“It’s everywhere. And all kinds of enterprises,” said Xu Xiaonian, an economics and finance professor at the China Europe International Business School. “It’s not confined to multinationals and joint ventures. And not just the south — everywhere.”

Analysts said the strikes were in many ways copycat versions of walkouts that began in May and shut down three Honda Motors plants, prompting Honda’s Japanese managers eventually to offer workers a wage increase of more than 20 percent. Workers in other sectors became emboldened by that strike’s success, analysts said……. (more details from the Washington Post)

One Response to “Strike at Honda plant the latest sign of labor unrest in China”

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