China pay stoppages hit Honda auto plants

21:18, May 28, 2010      

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A strike at a transmission factory of Honda Motor Corp in south China over wage levels has forced the Japanese vehicle maker to shut down production at four of its manufacturing plants.

"Along with local government officials, we are in discussions with employees trying to solve disputes over wages as soon as possible," Zhu Linjie, a spokesman for Honda Motor (China) Investment Co Ltd, said yesterday.

"All options are under consideration, including importing parts from neighboring countries so we can resume production," he told Shanghai Daily.

Employees walked off the Foshan factory in Guangdong Province on May 17 and have been out ever since.

The plant has 1,900 employees and supplies 480,000 sets of transmissions to Honda's Chinese ventures annually.

Workers complained about unfair salary differences between Chinese and Japanese employees and demanded a wage increase of about 1,000 yuan (US$146.41).

Hundreds of workers, wearing white uniforms, red-and-white caps and even masks, rallied at the compound of the Nanhai Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Company in Foshan yesterday demanding the raise, according to Xinhua news agency.

The report said more than 1,000 people had taken part in the strike since it started.

A worker identified by Xinhua as He said some of them earned 900 yuan a month, which was lower than minimum wages in Foshan.

"But Japanese staff can each earn US$300 day, and their job is just to give us training," Xinhua quoted another striking worker surnamed Ma as saying.

Honda made an offer to increase salaries for Chinese workers by 355 yuan, which was rejected.

Two plants run by Guangqi Honda, Honda's venture with Guangzhou Automobile in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, suspended production on Monday after talks broke down, Zhu said.

Another Honda plant in central China's Wuhan and the venture with Dongfeng Motor Group in the same city were also affected on Wednesday.

Guangqi Honda, which rolls out Fits, Accords and Odysseys, has an annual production of 360,000 units, while Dongfeng Honda makes 200,000 vehicles per year, including Civics and CR-Vs.

Zhu said there was no timetable for resumption of production nor an estimate of economic losses caused by the strikes.

Strikes over wage disputes are rare among vehicle makers in China. However, Japanese car companies are renowned for keeping tight cost controls on production.

The strike happened just one day after Honda announced aggressive production expansion plans in China.

Source: Xinhua


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