Atsumitec strikers get 45 percent pay rise, union lobbies for formal wage negotiation system

The week-long strike at Honda supplier Atsumitec ended Thursday after workers and management agreed to a 45 percent increase in the basic wage from 980 yuan a month to 1,420 yuan.

The roughly 200 employees at the Foshan plant were, in addition, offered a 250 yuan monthly living allowance and a performance related bonus; a significant victory after management had earlier in the week threatened to fire striking workers and hire replacements if they did not return to work.

Meanwhile, more than half the 800-strong workforce at Japanese-owed electronic components maker Omron in Guangzhou remained out on strike demanding at least a 40 percent increase in basic pay.

The currently basic pay level at the plant, 1,270 yuan, is just 170 yuan higher than the monthly minimum wage in Guangzhou and barely enough to live on. The fact that workers are asking for increases of around 50 percent, even higher in some cases, is a clear indication that wages in the Pearl River Delta have been kept far too low for far too long.

As the strikes continue, a high-level delegation from the Guangzhou Federation of Trade Unions arrived in San Francisco, the first leg of a four-city tour of the United States designed to improve relations with American trade unions and labour groups.

Delegation head Chen Weiguang was quoted by the Chinese media as saying American labour groups had already secured a commitment from Apple to improve payments to Foxconn so that wages at that company’s factories in China could be increased.

The Guangzhou and provincial Guangdong federations are two of the more progressive and pragmatic-sounding union federations in China and have professed their commitment towards protecting workers rights and interests.

The provincial government is currently drafting Regulations on the Democratic Management of Enterprises in Guangdong (广东省企业民主管理条例), which if implemented would establish a legally binding wage negotiation system. The regulations state that if more than one fifth of the workforce request wage negotiations, they can (under the leadership of the enterprise or regional union) elect representatives to negotiate with management.
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