Electronics workers strike at Japanese plant in PRC

AP , BEIJING

Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - Page 11

Workers at a Japanese-owned electronics factory in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin were on strike over pay and benefits yesterday, stopping work for the third day, a worker and the company said.

It was the latest in a spate of work stoppages in China, where laborers who have traditionally accepted low-paying assembly line jobs have recently risen up to demand better pay and conditions.

Beijing is normally quick to crush mass protests, but labor strikes have spread this summer as the government tries to restructure its export-driven economy to become more self-sustaining though measures aimed at increasing the incomes of ordinary people.

In Tokyo, Mitsumi Electric Co spokesman Yoshitsugu Murakami said production at its Tianjin factory has been stopped since Tuesday, apparently after factory workers walked out, demanding improved working conditions.

Workers at the factory — which employs about 2,800 people — are unionized and they have submitted a list of requests, which Murakami declined to elaborate on. Company officials are currently trying to assess the situation. He said he did not have information indicating a major rally at the factory.

A worker, who gave only her surname, Wang, said employees at the Tianjin Mitsumi Electric plant were demanding pay raises and better working conditions.

“We’re on strike because the factory has never increased our wages and they keep increasing our workload. It’s too tiring,” she told reporters.

Factory managers yesterday called workers and told them not to report to work, Wang said. But she was unsure whether workers were negotiating with the company and whether she should go to work today.

Another worker told Xinhua news agency that a new hire makes 1,500 yuan (US$220) a month, working six days a week with two hours of overtime every day.

Phones rang unanswered at the factory, which makes electronics appliances parts ranging from audio tuners and antennas to power switches.