Industrial actions, new challenge facing foreign manufacturers in China

10:46, June 14, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

An ongoing labor shutdown at an autoparts facility for the Japanese-based carmaker Honda Motor Co. in southern China's Guangdong Province, which was actually part of a string of strikes at overseas-funded plants since mid May, shed more light on challenges for the survival and development of transnational corporations in China.

According to Chinese experts, the recent series of strikes are challenging the ability of foreign capitalists to maintain peaceful relations with workers, which they believe are key toward the sustainable development of overseas-funded companies on the Chinese mainland.

The walkouts, including three at Honda's auto parts plants in Guangdong, one at a parts supplier in eastern China's Jiangsu Province and another at an industrial sewing machine company, also funded by a Japanese investor in Xi'an, capital city of northwestern China's Shaanxi Province, all found workers demanding increases in pay.

Since China began to reform and open up to the outside world more than 30 years ago, its inexpensive labor force has become one of the major factors in China attracting overseas investment and sharpening its competitive edge on global markets. Chinese workers, who had developed China into a world workshop, were named by Time Magazine as its Men Of The Year in 2009.

However, behind the glory there exists mounting complaints and discontent of Chinese workers.


An ongoing strike over pay entered its fifth day Sunday at Honda Lock (Guangdong) Co., Ltd., a joint venture between the Japanese firm and a local company affiliated with the government in Xiaolan Township.

The lock factory had earlier agreed to increase employees' monthly salaries by 100 yuan (14.6 U.S. dollars) and to raise over-time pay to 50 yuan per day, but the offer fell short of the demand of striking workers, about two-thirds of the factory's total of 1,400 employees, who sought a 500 yuan increase per month.

"Salaries for workers at Chinese automakers now average 3,000 yuan per month. But frontline workers at Honda's suppliers stand at 1,200 per month and even below. It's unfair," Jiang Libiao, an associate professor with the mechanics and auto engineering school of the South China University of Technology based in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, told Xinhua Sunday.

Jiang said for years some overseas-funded companies have maintained frontline employees' wages at the minimum standard, which compelled workers to earn more income through over-time work.

A worker at the Nanhai Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Company said, on conditions of anonymity, that according to its original pay system, the company allowed workers to have their salary increased by one level every year if they made no manufacturing mistakes. But there were 75 salary levels in total, and this aroused discontent among workers, he told Xinhua.

What made workers more indignant was the "arrogant" attitude of senior foreign corporate executives towards the strikes.

Workers at Honda Lock (Guangdong) Co., Ltd., said they were irritated by two corporate documents demanding a work resumption pledge, which were distributed to them on Friday and threatened to fire workers if they continued their walkout beyond June 15.

Senior executives of Honda Motor Co. had promised to arrive at the auto lock supply company Friday to negotiate with workers, but they failed to appear at the plant.

The pledged move, which, if fulfilled, had come already five days after the beginning of the walkout, probably was delayed by corporate red tape and time-consuming procedures necessary before decisions are made.

However, the delay was understood by Chinese workers as an arrogant attitude by corporate executives and an example of the lack of attention paid to workers' action and complaints.

A similar situation existed in disputes at other Honda suppliers as well as the sewing machine manufacturing company, which added to workers' discontent.

Honda parts suppliers involved in the series of strikes refused any media interviews and fended off any journalists from the plants concerned.
【1】 【2】


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Giant red lantern lights up in Tiananmen Square to celebrate the coming National Day on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Li Xin)
  • A ceremony is held in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, on Sept. 28, 2011, to commemorate the 2,562nd birthday of Confucius (551-479 BC), a Chinese thinker, educationist and philosopher. (Xinhua/Wu Ching-teng)
  • The world's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner for delivery arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on Sept. 28, 2011. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, whose buyer is All Nippon Airways (ANA), will implement a flight of ANA on Oct. 26 from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Hong Kong in south China. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)
  • A Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows what is believed to be human jawbone found inside a mass grave near Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Libya, Spet. 27, 2011. The NTC on Sunday said they had found a mass grave containing the bodies of 1,270 people killed by Gaddafi's security forces in a 1996 massacre at Abu Salim prison in southern Tripoli. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
  • Rescue workers and local residents search for survivors after a building collapsed in old Delhi, India, Sept. 27, 2011. At least 10 people were killed and 35 injured when an old three-storey building collapsed. More than a dozen people are still feared trapped under the debris, police said. (Xinhua/Partha Sarkar)
  • A visitor has flying experience in the windmill castle of Jinshitan National Holiday resort in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, Sept. 27, 2011. The castle is a 23-meter-high building with 21 meters in diameter. The castle uses wind tunnel to make objects floating in the air. It is the first indoor stadium in China, which enables people to have flying experience. (Xinhua/Zhang Chunlei)
Hot Forum Discussion