Production 'resumes' at Honda plant

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Some production has resumed at the Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Co Ltd in Shishan town after being suspended for a week due to a strike for higher pay.

An executive from the company, who declined to be named, said on Tuesday that some workshops had resumed operations since Monday.

Wen Jiezhen, a publicity official from Shishan township government in Foshan's Nanhai district, also confirmed that production resumed in parts of the plant.

However, Zhu Linjie, a spokesman for Honda Motor (China) Investment Co, told China Daily on Tuesday that none of the assembly plants has resumed operation.

"We are still trying hard for mediation," he said.

The strike at the Honda parts factory has caused a shortage of transmission and engine parts, which forced Honda to halt production last week at its four assembly plants in China.

According to a statement from Honda Motor (China) Investment Co, most of the workers said they were satisfied with the company's offer to raise their basic monthly salary an additional 366 yuan ($53) to 1,910 yuan.

Honda is trying its best to negotiate with the rest of its employees, who are holding out and refusing to accept the wage increase in exchange for a return to full production.

Some 100 workers met with management on Tuesday morning in an effort to resolve the dispute.

The local labor department and trade unions are also actively mediating in the case in the hope of ending the strike.

"The wage rise is not enough, as many workers have to rent houses, as well as pay water and electricity bills," insiders said.

"Many workers are expecting to reach a monthly salary of between 2,000 and 2,500 yuan, since the price of food and many daily necessities are rising quickly," they added.

Meanwhile, some workers went on strike to ask the company to punish those who beat them in a clash on Monday.

In the incident that took place outside the factory, 50 to 60 workers were beaten by 10 people who claimed to belong to the company's trade unions when they sought to persuade some of their co-workers not to break the strike by returning to work.

The trade union staff allegedly threatened to fire the workers, but no injuries were reported in the clash.

Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Co Ltd, which is 100 percent owned by the Japanese carmaker, is a major supplier of vehicle transmissions and other engine parts.

The plant, established in September 2005, reached an annual production capacity of more than 480,000 vehicle transmissions for Honda's assembly operations and has 1,900 employees, including 600 interns.

Due to the strike at the Shishan plant, production at Honda's four auto assembly firms in China have been suspended over the past week since transmission parts were in short supply.

Honda's economic losses have been estimated at more than 240 million yuan a day since the strike started.

The strike for higher wages initially began on May 17. After resuming work temporarily, workers went back on strike on May 21.

In addition to an increase in wages, workers are asking for improved working conditions, for the factory's operations and finances to be more transparent, as well as for a reshuffle of the company's trade union representatives.

Honda, Japan's No 2 automaker, jumped from a loss to a 72 billion yen ($774 million) profit for the January-March quarter, helped by booming demand in China and India. The company is facing pressure to keep costs under control at a time of intense competition from Toyota Motor Corp and other rivals.

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