Workers strike third Honda auto parts plant

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More than 100 workers at a Honda-affiliated auto parts plant in south China's Guangdong Province continued a walkout over pay on Wednesday, forcing the company management into negotiations. [Full coverage about Honda strike]

The strike, the third in three weeks to hit Honda Motor Co.'s suppliers in China's manufacturing hub of Guangdong, prompted top executives of Japan's second largest automaker and a local police chief to enter the plant, located in a remote area of Zhongshan City, to negotiate.

As of Wednesday night, a government official in Xiaolan Township, Zhongshan City, where the strike took place, claimed "the situation has become manageable."

During this latest strike, workers at Honda Lock (Guangdong) Co. demanded an increase in salary from 1,700 yuan (250 U.S. dollars) to 2,040 yuan (300 U.S. dollars) per month, government sources said.

"But compared to the other strikes, fewer workers joined the Zhongshan strike and the impact was confined to the factory complex," said Dong Zuwen, deputy head of Xiaolan Township.

According to reports, company managers remain in talks with workers.

Honda Lock (Guangdong) Co., Ltd., is a joint venture between the Japanese firm and a local company affiliated with the Xiaolan Township government. It employs 1,400 workers.

Second strike ends

Beginning last month, Honda Motor Co. was hit by two similar strikes at its suppliers' plants based in Guangdong. Both strikes ended with management promising a hike in salaries or welfare.

Late Wednesday, workers at a China factory manufacturing mufflers and exhaust system parts for Honda vehicles ended their three-day strike and returned to work.

About 110 workers reported for Wednesday's night shift, signaling a full resumption of work had begun, Yu Ju, deputy manager of Foshan Fengfu Autoparts Co. Ltd. (Fengfu), told Xinhua. A local government official inside the plant in Foshan City also confirmed that the strike had ended.

Fengfu owners and workers signed an agreement late Wednesday, with the company promising to add an additional 135 yuan (19.8 U.S. dollars) to each worker's monthly salary.

Fengfu, a joint venture of a Honda subsidiary and a Taiwan-based company, employs 489 workers in its Foshan plant. Workers' monthly salaries ranged from 1,500 to 1,800 yuan (220 to 264 U.S. dollars) prior to the strike, Zhu Linjie, a Honda's Beijing-based spokesman said.

Under the agreement, Fengfu also agrees to allow workers to have regular yearly pay increases and to form an effective trade union. Strikes have forced Honda to suspend operations at two of its auto assembly lines in Guangdong. The company has not yet announced a timeline for resuming operations.

Honda shares dipped 2.81 percent in Tokyo trading on Wednesday.


Honda managers said the second and third strikes were spill-overs from the first strike that hit Nanhai Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Company in Guangdong from May 17 to June 1.

Honda agreed to a 600 yuan monthly pay raise for the Nanhai Honda workers to end the strike. But workers at other Honda- affiliated plants in Guangdong soon demanded Honda provide similar pay increases.

Guangdong, home to China's Pearl River Delta industrial belt, has been the country's major manufacturing hub with an ample supply of inexpensive and seemingly docile labor.

But rising labor issues in recent weeks indicate that advantage might now be fading.

In the most dramatic case, Foxconn, which supplies Sony, Apple and Nokia with IT components, was forced to offer a dramatic wage hike -- nearly 70 percent -- to some of its 400,000 assembly line workers in Shenzhen after ten of its employees jumped to their deaths this year.

Also, Shenzhen increased the city's minimum wage by 10 percent on Wednesday to 1,100 yuan per month (161.04 U.S. dollars) from 1,000 yuan, beginning this July.

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