Wall Street Journal: Strike Ends at Toto Factory in China

12 May 2014

China Labour Bulletin is quoted in the following article. Copyright remains with the original publisher.

By ATSUKO FUKASE in Tokyo and COLUM MURPHY in Shanghai
May 9, 2014

A four-day strike by Chinese workers at a factory belonging to Japanese bathroom-equipment manufacturer Toto Ltd. ended Friday afternoon, the company said in a statement.

Toto said it had accepted workers' demands and agreed to increase salaries, maintain existing pay structures and appoint a new manager.

Operations at the factory, in the Songjiang district of Shanghai, will resume Monday, it said. Toto said it expected "little impact" on earnings.

While such disputes are difficult to track, experts say they appear to be on the rise in China as the economy slows, companies face pressure to cut costs and as workers become more aware of their rights. China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based labor group, recorded 202 labor disputes in the first quarter of 2014, up 31% from the same period last year.

Japanese employers in particular have been under scrutiny as a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing worsened relations between the countries. Sales of Japanese auto brands in China plunged in 2012 when the dispute heated up.

The Toto strike began Tuesday evening when workers rejected a new payment system. A spokeswoman for Toto described the situation as a "misunderstanding." Talks between management and workers began Thursday, it said.

The Kyodo news agency earlier reported that about 1,000 employees were involved in the strike that at times turned violent.

No one answered the telephone at the Songjiang factory Friday.

Toto said it had replaced the former Japanese factory manager with another manager. The new manager is originally from China but now holds Japanese citizenship, the spokeswoman said.

--Lilian Lin in Beijing contributed to this article.

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