Thousands of workers went on strike on Tuesday at a Singapore-owned electronics factory in central China’s Henan province, an area already rocked by a mass walkout of workers at an iPhone plant last week.
Workers at the Xinfei Electronic Appliances Group in Xinxiang city staged the strike because they had not seen a wage increase for more than a decade and are often required to work as long as 12 hours a day, sources said.
“The striking workers are now all gathered at the main gate,” a staff member at the factory’s Xinxiang-based headquarters said on Tuesday.
Workers had not received a pay raise in “about 10 years,” the staffer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A worker surnamed Sun provided more details.
“About 3,000 workers walked out today, and this is because our life is really miserable,” he said.
“When I began to work for this factory in 1995, I earned a monthly wage of 1,000 yuan [U.S. $159], but now I make only 1,200 yuan [U.S. $190] per month.”
“In 17 years, though prices have constantly gone up, my pay has increased by only 200 yuan [U.S. $31],” he said.
Factory managers don’t care about the workers’ plight, Sun added.
“Every day, we have to work more than 12 hours, but there is no overtime pay at all,” he said.
Worker representatives held talks with factory managers on Tuesday morning, but the managers rejected workers’ demands, Sun said.
“We cannot endure this anymore, and don’t want to endure it anymore. We will continue our strike until our conditions are met,” he said.
Phone calls to the factory’s management office on Tuesday were answered separately by two employees, but both refused to comment.
Meanwhile, Taiwan-owned Foxconn denied reports of a large-scale strike at its Apple iPhone plant in nearby Zhengzhou city in Henan, saying on Saturday that “disputes” at the factory had been resolved.
The New York-based rights group China Labor Watch had reported that 3,000 to 4,000 workers walked out of the factory on Friday to protest stricter quality-control measures on the assembly line and to demand the right to take vacations during China’s week-long National Day holiday.
Though Foxconn said that clashes reported by the group had taken place several days earlier and were “isolated incidents,” employees at the company’s Zhengzhou facility said the reported large-scale strike had occurred.
“There were about 4,000 to 5,000 people,” said a factory employee surnamed Jiang.
Separately, workers at the Fujia Electric Appliances Factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen began to return to work on Tuesday following a day-long strike called to protest low wages and long working hours, sources said.
A young woman surnamed Han said that factory owners treated workers harshly.
“Our wages are very low, and we have to work long hours each day, seven days a week. This violates [China’s] Labor Law,” she said.
Workers had begun to strike on Monday, but had gradually returned to work on Tuesday after the factory owner “promised to make changes and agreed to some of the workers’ demands,” she said.
Reported by Qiao Long and Gao Shan for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Ping Chen.