Fri, Dec 09, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Hundreds strike in latest labor protest in Shenzhen

AFP, SHANGHAI

Hundreds of workers protested for a fifth straight day yesterday at a Japanese plant in Shenzhen City, a company official said, in the latest example of labor unrest to break out in the country’s manufacturing hub.

Nearly 1,000 workers have downed tools since Sunday at disk drive maker Hailiang Storage -Products Co, blocking the entrance and accusing bosses of “bullying” Chinese workers, state media and a rights group said.

The factory is operated by Japan’s Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which is in the process of being taken over by US firm Western Digital.

Workers, who fear the acquisition will result in lower wages, hoisted banners that read: “We also know our rights” and “Japanese companies shamelessly bully Chinese workers,” said US-based China Labor Watch.

The company official, who declined to be named, said that talks to resolve the strike were continuing.

Since last month, thousands of workers in factories in southern China and elsewhere have gone on strike, protesting low salaries, wage cuts and poor conditions as companies cut back amid the global economic slowdown.

Labor activists say that the authorities in China appear to be more sympathetic toward grievances against factories funded by foreign companies or overseas Chinese investors from Hong Kong and Taiwan than domestically-owned plants.

Another two-week strike last month by nearly 1,000 workers over rest breaks and salaries paralyzed a Shenzhen factory in which Japanese watchmaker Citizen has a stake.

The strike ended after factory bosses agreed to give workers 70 percent of their normal hourly rate for rest breaks.

At a Shenzhen factory owned by Hong Kong women’s underwear maker Top Form International, hundreds of workers refused to return to their sewing machines for several days last month over overtime pay.

Production resumed after the factory agreed to pay every worker 1,000 yuan (US$157).

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