New strikes hit China’s automotive sector as workers at other plants negotiate deals

Two new strikes have halted production at Japanese-owned automotive components and assembly plants in Guangzhou.

Workers at NHK-UNI Spring (Guangzhou) went on strike Tuesday, after workers at Denso (Guangzhou Nansha), which supplies fuel injection equipment to Honda and Toyota, walked off the job on Monday demanding higher pay and better benefits.

Workers at NHK-UNI Spring demanded that their monthly salaries be increased from 1,200 yuan to 1,700 yuan (in line with demands at other components factories) and that their end of year bonus be increased from 1,200 yuan to 6,800 yuan. Management agreed to the pay rise but not the bonus demand.

The strikes, which forced Toyota and Honda to suspend production at their assembly plants in Guangzhou, are the latest in a string of disputes to affect foreign-owned automotive plants and other businesses in China. It followed the resolution of strikes at Honda Lock in Zhongshan, where workers accepted a slightly improved pay offer, and at Toyota Gosei in Tianjin, where management offered additional allowances of around 200 yuan for perfect attendance and to compensate for the summer heat.

And in Chongqing, workers at a brewery who went out on strike after Danish brewer Carlsberg announced it had increased its stake in the company to 30 percent, returned to work on 18 June, after they received reassurances about their jobs.

Workers involved in these recent disputes have not just been asking for higher pay, they have been demanding improved working conditions as well. At the Foshan Fengfu Auto Parts factory, which produces exhaust systems for Honda, workers complained the debilitating heat and fumes in the workshop.

“We are breathing poisonous fumes all day long. We want better monitoring in the workshop and thorough health checks. The factory must take responsibility,” a 26-year-old worker told AFP.

And in the KOK Machinery strike in Kunshan earlier this month, workers also complained at having to work all day in excessively high temperatures. The failure of managements to provide decent working conditions, especially in the summer months, has been the frequent cause of strikes in the past (see CLB’s report on the workers’ movement 2007-08) and more strikes are likely to follow this summer unless pay and conditions at factories across China are improved.
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