Honda's ad for new workers triggers renewed discontent

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A want-ad posted by a Honda supplier's factory in south China's Guangdong Province triggered renewed discontent among striking workers on Sunday as their walkout entered its fifth day.

About 300 workers at Honda Lock (Guangdong) Co. Ltd., located in the Xiaolan Township of Zhongshan City, had planned to return to their workplace Sunday morning after factory management had agreed to increase their monthly salary -- though less than expected, said Dong Zuwen, deputy head of the township.

But they stopped at the factory gate when they saw a want-ad in which the factory promises to pay at least 2,000 yuan (294 U.S.dollars) per month for each new worker, Dong said.

"The move triggered strong dissatisfaction among workers, as they themselves can only earn 1,700 yuan per month now," he said.

The workers have since held a rally outside the factory, which lasted about three to four hours, he added.

"The factory suddenly posted a want-ad and their intention is very clear: they are threatening us striking workers," said a representative of the workers, surnamed Lin.

"They are telling us: if you do not resume work soon, the factory will employ new workers and replace you," he said.

Senior executives of Honda Motor Co., Japan's No. 2 carmaker, were said to have planned to come to the factory Sunday to negotiate with workers, but they reportedly never arrived.

"The situation was turning better after the factory agreed to the pay raise, but now the striking workers flared up again after the factory posted the want-ad," Liu Zhiwei, a local government publicity official, told Xinhua.

Honda's lock plant is a joint venture between the Japanese firm and a local company affiliated with the Xiaolan township government. It employs 1,400 workers and supplies Honda vehicle assembly plants with locks and key sets.

The lock factory had earlier agreed to increase each employee's monthly salary by 100 yuan and to raise the standard of over-time pay to 50 yuan per day, but the offer was short of the striking workers' demand for about a 500 yuan increase per month.

This was the third strike to hit Honda's suppliers in Guangdong in less than a month. Workers at two other factories demanded, and have received, significant pay increases.

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