Most striking workers have returned to work at the Nokia factory in the southern city of Dongguan after their recent industrial action, but experts have warned that the strike should serve as a lesson for transnational mergers and acquisitions.
Up to 1,000 employees went on strike since November 19, concerned that their wages will be cut after Nokia sold its mobile business to US software giant Microsoft. The strike happened on the same day the Finnish telecom firm announced that its shareholders had approved the 5.4-billion-euro (US$7.2 billion) sale, with the transfer set to take place in early 2014.
About 32,000 Nokia employees will join Microsoft, including staff from the Dongguan factory, which was founded in 1995 as one of Nokia's major production bases for its mobile devices. The Dongguan factory has a staff of 4,900.
The workers were worried that they would be forced to sign new contracts under worse terms, namely lower salaries and fewer days of paid leave.
They demanded that their current contracts with Nokia be terminated, and compensation paid to them according to current laws. The workers said they will sign new employment contracts with Microsoft under equal or better terms.
An executive of the factory said the workers gradually resumed their duties from Sunday after the two sides reached a compromise with help from the local authorities.
"Microsoft has promised that the workers' salaries and benefits will remain the same for 12 months after the acquisition," an internal e-mail showed.
Gao Xiang, head of communications of Nokia China, said it will give a 1,000-yuan bonus (US$164) to workers who did not join the strike.
Those who refuse to go back to work will be fired, the e-mail said. A worker, surnamed Liang, said more than 200 of his colleagues had already been sacked.
Similar strikes have also happened in other factories in China such as Western Digital's purchase of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Indian tire maker Apollo's attempted acquisition of US Cooper Tire.
Wang Jiangsong, a professor with the China Institute of Industrial Relations, said the sporadic strikes showed the Chinese workers' awareness of rights.
"China's first generation of migrant workers just wanted to earn some money and were less rights-conscious," Wang said. "But the new generation tend to resist fiercely if they feel their rights have been violated."