Strike Halts Toyota Plant

Striking workers in China reject an initial offer, sparking an assembly plant closure.
2010-06-23
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Visitors view a display in Beijing by Japanese auto maker Toyota, April 25, 2010.
Visitors view a display in Beijing by Japanese auto maker Toyota, April 25, 2010.
AFP

HONG KONG—A strike at a Japanese-invested car parts manufacturer in south China's Guangdong province prompted car giant Toyota to halt production at a Chinese car assembly plant, after workers at the supplying plant went on strike calling for a pay increase.

Denso's joint venture Nansha plant in Guangzhou halted production early Monday.

Workers said they were unhappy with a proposed pay rise of 450 yuan per month and were calling for a pay increase of 800 yuan per month instead, raising their salaries to 2,000 yuan, in line with a recent award at Shenzhen-based, Taiwan-invested electronics giant Foxconn.

"Of course we are unhappy with such a raise," one striking working said. "We are going to continue negotiations."

"Our salaries right now are low, so low we have a hard time using words to describe how low they are."

"The problem has yet to be resolved," she said.

Toyota suspended production at its car-assembly plant in southern China Tuesday after the Denso strike, just a day after it resumed production at a separate Chinese plant disrupted by labor action.

Hitoshi Yokoyama, a Beijing-based Toyota spokesman, said a strike at the supplier plant, Denso (Guangzhou Nansha) Co., had caused a shortage of fuel-injectors and other components.

Back at Denso, a second striking worker said the striking workforce was still waiting for a clear result from negotiations.

"We have representatives who are currently in talks with management," she said.

Calls to the factory offices went unanswered during office hours Tuesday.

A switchboard operator who answered the phone said that all the management were currently out of the office, and declined to give out any of their cell phone numbers.

More assertive workers

The strike is the latest in a series of high-profile labor disputes, which analysts say may signal the end of low-cost manufacturing in China.

Earlier this month, workers walked out at three Honda plants in the Pearl River Delta and at a Taiwan-invested machinery plant in Jiangsu.

Rights activists and economists say the Pearl River Delta region has recently seen rising pressure for improved wages, sparked by a series of employee suicides at Shenzhen's Taiwan-owned Foxconn, and progressing to the Honda parts factories, which have since resumed production.

Labor experts say today's migrant workers in China's big cities are less likely to accept unfair treatment or inadequate pay and conditions in urban factories, because the new generation is highly motivated and better educated than their parents.

China has recently begun raising its minimum wage in an attempt to close the growing gap between rich and poor.

Original reporting in Cantonese by Fung Yat-yiu and in Mandarin by Nan Zhou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated from the Chinese and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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