Strike In China Idles Another Honda Supplier

BEIJING (AP) — A strike has shut down another factory in China that supplies Honda Motor Co. amid a wave of protests by workers for higher wages, an employee and a labor official said Friday. The strike at the Atsumitec Co. factory in the southern city of Foshan near Hong Kong involves 90 percent of the 200 employees and began Monday, the employee said by phone.

BEIJING (AP) — A strike has shut down another factory in China that supplies Honda Motor Co. amid a wave of protests by workers for higher wages, an employee and a labor official said Friday.

The strike at the Atsumitec Co. factory in the southern city of Foshan near Hong Kong involves 90 percent of the 200 employees and began Monday, the employee said by phone. The factory supplies gearshift levers to Honda assembly plants in China.

Honda production in China was not affected by the strike because its assembly plants have adequate stocks of components, said a Honda spokesman, Hideto Maehara. An Atsumitec manager who answered the phone at its headquarters in Japan refused to give any information or his name.

The employee said she had no details of workers' demands and refused to give her name. The South China Morning Post newspaper of Hong Kong cited an employee who said the strike was triggered by changes in work rules that would cut overtime pay on which workers rely because their base wages are low.

Employees at dozens of Chinese factories have gone on strike in recent months for higher pay. Beijing froze government-mandated minimum wages in 2008 to help companies ride out the global crisis but now that the economy and exports are rebounding, workers want a share of the higher revenues.

The communist government normally prohibits protests but has allowed the strikes, many of them at foreign-owned companies, apparently trying to put more money in Chinese workers' pockets as part of efforts to boost consumer spending and reduce reliance on exports to drive economic growth.

Honda and Toyota Motor Corp. have repeatedly halted production at assembly plants in China since mid-May after parts suppliers were hit by strikes for higher wages.

The Global Times, published by the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily, carried a photo Friday of striking Atsumitec workers punching the air with their fists. The state-controlled press has not reported on strikes at Chinese-owned companies.

The umbrella group for Chinese government-sanctioned unions, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, has gotten involved in the talks, said an official of the group's Foshan branch. He would give only his surname, Li, and refused to give any details of the workers' demands or the status of the strike.

In Guangdong province, where Atsumitec and thousands of other foreign-owned factories are located, there were at least 36 strikes for higher wages between May 25 and July 12, the government-run China Daily newspaper reported Friday.

Most of the workers received monthly raises of 100 yuan to 500 yuan ($15-$75), the newspaper said, citing the director of Guangdong's human resources department, Ou Zhenzhi. It said Guangdong authorities found 120 companies with "unstable labor relations" and ordered them to remedy misconduct such as delaying or withholding wages.

The minimum monthly wage in Guangdong was increased in March to between 920 yuan and 1,030 yuan ($135-$150) in the capital of Guangzhou and cities in the Pearl River Delta, a manufacturing region near Hong Kong. Elsewhere, it is as low as 660 yuan ($95).

The base monthly wage at the Atsumitec facility in Foshan is 1,070 yuan ($158), according to the South China Morning Post.

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